In an apparent abandonment of its "one size fits all" strategy, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple is experimenting with larger screens on its mobile devices. The iPad-maker has reportedly asked for screen prototypes larger than four inches for smartphones and under 13 inches for tablets. The Journal cited officials at Apple's suppliers as its source.
Apple may be responding to competitive pressure based on the success of larger-screen devices from Samsung and HTC. Although some critics have voiced concerns of option overload with Samsung's various screen sizes, which have pushed into what the industry calls phablets -- half phone, half tablets -- others have opined for more iPhone options and many have long been rumored.
"Many handset vendors are rolling out big phones to meet the growing demand," Yuanta analyst Dennis Chan told the Journal. "To stay competitive, I believe that Apple is probably working on a larger iPhone."
Apple Playing Catch Up?
Apple may be relenting to consumer market trends. According to Forrester Research, 49 percent of U.S. consumers who own mobile and tablet devices prefer the tablet as the primary mobile device to access the Internet. That would seem to open the door to a wider variety than Apple offers.
IDC also reports that tablets are the rising stars, with 78.4 percent year-over-year growth. Apple is the star of the tablet market, and stands to gain from broadening its iPhone line up to compete with Samsung. IDC reports that Apple was pulling closer to Samsung on the mobile device front thanks, in part, to the iPad mini. That may be bolstering Apple's confidence to expand its mobile horizons.
We caught up with Avi Greengart, a principal analyst at Current Analysis, to get his take on screen sizes. He told us consumers clearly have been moving toward larger and larger displays. Apple has not kept pace, except for a small screen size boost on the iPhone 5.
Will Apple Follow Samsung?
"If you went back even two years ago a five-inch screen seemed it would be way too big. Today a five-inch display is in one of the world's most popular phones with the Samsung Galaxy S4," Greengart said. "Vendors have done more than just increased the screen size, they've also reduced the bezel. So more of your device is screen today than it was a few years ago. That makes a big difference. In some cases, the phones have actually gotten narrower as the screens have gotten bigger."
Greengart offers a prime example: The screen size on the Samsung Galaxy Note compared to the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is only .2 inches. But Samsung changed the aspect ratio on the Note 2 so the device is actually narrower and longer than the original model. The screen size technically got larger but practically speaking it's easier to use. Apple could pursue this type of strategy.
"I don't know what voodoo Samsung is using on its devices but you end up with more phone in a smaller package. It's not much smaller. It's still a very large device," Greengart said. "Samsung is packing more in than they have in the past and we are seeing other vendors follow suit."
Posted: 2013-07-22 @ 12:03pm PT
It's about time. Apple's recent fall from grace is directly related to it's arrogance in this matter. Millions of people never would have even considered Samsung if not for 2 reasons: 1) Apple's refusal to give the market that was demanding a larger screen what it wanted and 2) Apple's earlier exclusivity with AT&T. These 2 things drove many in the market including myself to seek out other options and Samsung was the winner.