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iPhone 6: Can Apple Succeed With a Phablet?

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Is the iPhone 6 going to be too little, too late? While reading an article on Seeking Alpha today that was written by Stone Fox Capital entitled, “Apple: Already too Late to the Phablet Market,” it made me wonder. It makes a compelling argument that Apple won’t make it in the phablet market, largely because consumers are already buying up devices offered by Samsung, LG and other OEMs that have already been selling these large-screen devices. I think we need to look at Apple’s possible entrance into the market in a different light, though — and I think Apple can indeed make strides with a larger iPhone 6.

“In the tech world, it is rare for an established market to be disrupted by a new entrant unless it provides truly disruptive features and the iPhone 6 even with iOS 8 doesn’t appear to offer that disruption to even high end consumers,” Stone Fox Capital said. That’s a fair assessment of market competitiveness, but it fails to distinguish by operating system.

Yes, it is perhaps hard for one tech firm to enter the crowded Android phablet market with a new Android device — it needs distinguishing features because otherwise the core experience is the same. Take the Samsung S Pen for example, which helps the Note family stand out from other products. The problem with that statement, however, is that we also need to consider that iOS itself is enough of a distinguishing feature from Android that it alone can help propel the iPhone.

Think of it this way: about three years ago, pundits didn’t think there was a need for Apple to move its display size up to 4 inches. Last quarter, Apple again reported a record 51 million iPhone units were sold. Apple can succeed with a larger-screened iPhone 6 simply by selling the product to consumers who want a larger-screened iOS device.

It doesn’t have to worry, necessarily, about disrupting the phablet market with new features because iOS itself is disruptive enough — in terms of the differences between what it offers versus Android. I’m not saying one is better than the other, but I am saying that there are consumers who won’t buy a larger-screened device because it runs Android — just like there are consumers who won’t buy an iPhone — and that’s where the potential for Apple in the phablet market is. There’s also potential to take market share away from Android, especially in Asia where phablets are popular and Apple has room for growth. That’s share that Apple has left on the table simply because it doesn’t have a product for big-phone fans.

As to whether or not Apple even decides to take a stab at a phablet, I don’t know. Rumors have suggested Apple is working on a 4.7-inch and/or a 5.5-inch iPhone 6, and I’d probably be more comfortable with the former — at least for easier one-handed use. To suggest Apple is late to the game, however, seems like a mistake.

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Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...

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