Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Two new devices just hit the PlayStore. The question is, why did Google choose these two over-sized devices?

By Bobby Situkangpoles

By now, everyone has probably heard that there are two new Google Experience devices added to the PlayStore, the Xperia Z Ultra and the LG G Pad 6.3. This is surely good news for anyone looking to have more Google experience devices. One interesting point to note is the fact that the two are somewhat "oversized" for their respective categories.

With a 6.4 inch screen, Sony's Xperia Z Ultra is pushing the limits of what can be considered a to be phone, while the LG G Pad 8.3 is one of the largest in the small tablet category (0.3 of an inch larger than the iPad Mini and 1.3 inch bigger than the Nexus 7).

I don't think it was simply a matter of coincidence, let me explain.

On December 3rd, IDC launched their tablet shipment forecast. Tom Mainelli, IDC 's Research Director for tablets said the following:

"One key factor to watch going forward is the mix of small vs. large tablets. The market has trended toward small tablets in a big way over the last 24 months, but the rise of large phones could well push consumers back toward larger tablets as the difference between a 6-inch smartphone and a 7-inch tablet isn't great enough to warrant purchasing both......... In some markets consumers are already making the choice to buy a large smartphone rather than buying a small tablet, and as a result we've lowered our long-term forecast,.......... A transition toward larger tablets could be a positive development for Windows tablets, which generally benefit from a larger screen area."

Regular readers probably know that I am a bit of an evangelist of using cellular+phone capable tablets. My reasons and experience were outlined in this four part series that I wrote some half a year ago. The following chart summed up the financial reasoning part:

However, that piece was written before 6 inch+ devices like Samsung’s Galaxy Mega 6.3 (and later Sony’s Xperia Z Ultra) came to the market. These new breed of super sized phablets gave consumers more options. As mentioned earlier, research firm IDC thinks that these new options will determine how the tablet market will look like going forwards. Especially for people who are looking to have a single tablet like device to have on their person all day.

Nowadays, consumers focused on media consumption can opt to use a single ultra sized phone like, well, Sony’s  Z Ultra. Saving them from the hassle of having to carry around a phone as well as a small tablet with them all day. On the other hand, productivity oriented consumers now have the option to switch from 7 inch devices to 8+ inch tablets and take advantage of the larger screen real estate. One can argue that 10 inch tablets will provide even more screen real estate thus more productivity. However, as I’m sure you can imagine, it is not entirely practical to carry 10 inch tablets everywhere.

IDC forecasted a near future in which the market for 7 inch tablets are squished from both sides by the proliferation of phablets and 8+ inch tablets. The launch of these two new GPe devices seem to confirm that Google is responding to this trend. There is reason to believe that Gogle is using these two new devices as an experiment to test IDC’s assumptions. If the prediction turned out to be correct then Google has practically covered all the bases, and well poised to ride the next waves of mobile device trend. If it was proven wrong it won’t affect them much since since these two devices are not really part of their Nexus program anyway.

If these two devices are able to meet Google’s internal criteria for success, I won't be surprised if by this time next year, we'd have two new additions to the Nexus program. An Ultra sized phone and an 8 inch tablet.

Thus, today’s seemingly simple launch of two new Google Experience devices on the PlayStore can be an early sign of things to come.

Anyone in the mood for a Nexus 6 or a Nexus 8?