Phablets Show Promise, but Lack of Special Apps Slows Enterprise Use
"Everything I am hearing about the iPhone 6 Plus is that there's quite a bit of evidence out there that the larger screens are a big hit with consumers and business users," he said. Rob Enderle, principal analyst of The Enderle Group, told eWEEK that bigger screens do turn out to be better for business users, as evidenced by his own experiences with his Nokia 1520 Windows phone, which has a 6-inch display. "You don't go back once you use a bigger screen," he said. "Once you get used to the extra screen real estate, it's really hard to go back to a smaller screen. I'll open up attachments on it, and when you bring up the keyboard, it doesn't obliterate the screen. You still have a lot of screen left to see other things. If I leave my tablet behind and want to read on my phone, that makes a huge difference. It's just a ton more useful for me." The phablet market is still developing for business users, said Enderle. "Actually, I think as people realize that small tablet apps work better on these big phones and they can leave the extra device at home, they'll more aggressively move to this form factor," he said.Another analyst, Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, however, said he's not seeing phablets making a big dent in enterprise use or adoption at this point. "They're not getting much traction in the enterprise," Bajarin told eWEEK. In the past several years, many companies thought they could replace fully-featured laptops for mobile enterprise workers with tablets, but they often learned that tablets couldn't replace laptops in terms of productivity, he said. Businesses see phablets in a similar way—that they could potentially supplement laptops but not be a primary device for workers, he said. "This is why we are seeing strong laptop sales in the enterprise again." Bajarin said his company's research doesn't show phablets helping business workers with one of their key tasks—creating needed content—which is a big shortcoming. "The evolution of the phablet has been more focused on the fact that as you get a larger screen, it's still a smartphone." Franz Fruehwald, CIO for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, agreed, saying that only a small number of the 1,800 employees his department supports are using phablets as their work devices. Instead, the most popular mobile devices being used by the Archdiocese' employees are Apple iPad and Microsoft Surface tablets because they can be more easily used for spreadsheets, memo writing and more, he said. "We do not have as large a footprint in the phablet marketplace," said Fruehwald. "What we're finding is that if people are really doing work … and they want to be mobile, they're getting a Surface Pro."
There will be converts even among those who have initially disparaged phablets, Enderle said. "It kind of amazes me when I see someone who has made fun of folks with phablets use one for a while. They generally become enamored with the device. It is almost a religious experience."