Four years ago, when we were examining leading-indicator values and expectations of what was the then-nascent “tablet” category, we saw consumer values dealing with tablets and telecommunications were blending. The result? Tablet attributes, benefits, and values combining with something that let you make a call. A little ahead of its time? Sure, but that’s the nice thing about real loyalty and engagement metrics. They’re leading-indicators, meaning they’re signs of what’s going to happen down the road.
Anyway, at the time we called the fusion of smartphone and tablet technologies a “phablet.” OK, not the most creative of titles, but at that juncture it really didn’t matter what we called them because there weren’t enough of them to matter, and certainly not enough to measure. But all that said an amalgam of the two was showing up on the radar. Dell introduced a hybrid back then they called the “Streak,” but after a year and only a 3% share of market, it vanished from the market.
Four years later and it’s no surprise to anyone that technology moves fast, but it sometimes even technology has to decelerate to keep up with to consumer expectations. Those values we talked about four years ago have created even more heightened phablet blips on our loyalty-engagement radar screen, according to our most recent Customer Loyalty Engagement Index. So here we are, back to the future. And while the “phablet” category is still too new and too small to track, the way customer expectations are going and technology has been, perhaps we’ll have those numbers for you sooner rather than later.
Samsung has been introducing larger and larger smartphone screens, and larger smartphone screens seem extremely popular with consumers. In the Asia-Pacific market they’ve been reported as outselling tablets. With that kind of success it can’t be too long before other brands follow. In fact, the most recent tech rumor is that the Apple iPhone 6 will come very close to having a 6” display. With these kinds of category reports and brand rumors, questions abound: Which values will supersede others? Smartphones or tablets? Does size really matter? Will “phablets” finally become a category unto itself? Will consumers flock to this new configuration? And, where can I get one?
Three things for sure. First, consumer expectations will continue to grow, especially when it comes to fusing technologies that have previously delighted consumers. Second, predictive loyalty and engagement assessments can help to answer those questions, and quite specifically at the early stage. And third, you want those answers because it prevents brands from confusing the art of possibility with the art of profitability.