Have you had enough with portable technology devices? If you said ”yes,” it can hardly be considered a surprise. More than any other time in history, the consumer electronics market is overflowing with options . . . so many that it is easy to fail to see what the point of it all is. Media players alone have become a market where the options seem to be designed more for competition between products than actually filing a niche that is desperately yearning to be filled.
For small-screen devices, you have your smartphones. While many of the smartphones have screens that are less than 2” for the diagonal screen measurement, the iPod Touch changed the nature of such devices when Apple released it with a 3.5” screen. This created a niche of handheld devices that could surf the Internet and perform all sorts of media functions, including playing movies and music. The Apple iPhone added telephone communication to that and with that, Apple firmly entered the smartphone wars.
Above the smartphones, there were tablet computers and e-readers. E-readers have an average screen size of 6” and tablet computers like the iPad feature a 9.7” touchscreen. The e-reader’s screen size makes some sense, as it is very close in dimensions to the standard paperback book. Psychologically, this aids the user in providing a more familiar reading experience. The tablet computer’s large screen makes sense as well, as one of the key selling points of the product is the ability to watch movies and television programs right on your tablet computer. The tablet computer may be more portable and convenient than a laptop computer without losing as much of the image quality as you do on a smartphone.
But now, highlighted at this year’s Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, a new product is hitting the market with a purpose that is hard to fathom. Samsung is calling the product a “phablet,” which is their clever hybridization of a smartphone and a tablet computer. The Galaxy Note has a 5” screen and serves the exact same functions as a smartphone or a tablet computer.
Equally baffling are the leaks coming from Apple about the Mini iPad. Well-leaked to have a 7.85” touchscreen, it is hard to fathom just what niche they think they missed between the iPod Touch and iPad. With less than two inches difference in screen size, consumers are rightfully questioning why Apple is adding this product to their line.
Many consumers are jaded about this; instead of truly new products, many of the major brands are simply repackaging their established products in slightly different sizes. As NPD released industry statistics claiming that consumer electronic sales during the holiday season were down, only the big businesses are likely to be surprised as to why!
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