"Year of the Phablet?"

One informal rule of thumb that works pretty well is to assume that whenever an analyst dubs the coming year the "year of," it will not be. That doesn't mean the trend is wrong. Typically, there is a fair chance a trend, or potential trend, is at work.

The issue is just that a big trend takes a while to get established, and analysts typically are, for professional reasons, too eager to declare that a new trend not only will begin, but will be consequential, in the next 12-month period. 

"Phablets" now have been pronounced the subject of such a "year of" prediction for 2013. By contrarian thinking, that might suggest 2013, in fact, will not be as consequential as predicted. 

The Asia-Pacific is, and will remain, the world's biggest market for phablets, says Joshua Flood, ABI Research senior analyst. 

Last year, the Asia-Pacific region absorbed 42 percent of global shipments, a proportion that will expand steadily over the next few years to account for over 50 percent of shipments by 2017, according to ABI Research.

But some analysts continue to think the problem is that phablets are "too big for a smart phone, and too small for a tablet." The key is ergonomics, some would argue. At some point, a smart phone has to be held in one hand. 

But is it a phone? The point is not whether the device can make and receive calls, or send and receive text messages. In fact, most communicating appliances can do such things. The issue is whether the lead app for a smart phone will always be "making calls." 

These days, most users probably spend more time using a smart phone as an Internet device, for browsing, playing games, sending text messages or consuming media.

It is a reasonable objection that most people would find a phablet a less convenient operation than using a smaller smart phone. But for many users, "making a call" might be only the fourth or fifth most frequent use of the device. 

We will find out, eventually. We probably won't find out in 2013, though. 

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