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Technology leapfrogging: How the cloud, tablets and phablets advance tech adoption

Jen A. Miller | July 24, 2014
Technology upgrades don't have to be incremental journeys from version 1.0 to 2.0. Here are three examples of innovations that have let specific demographic groups ‘leapfrog’ standard tech for something that better suits their needs.

To understand the phablet's popularity, Sovie says, "Look at the evolution of how people use mobile devices. It used to be a phone. Now, what's the primary use of this thing you call a phone? It's not about calling people."

A phablet is a device with a 5- to 7-inch screen that blends the functionality of a tablet and smartphone. The Samsung Galaxy Tab fits within this category. The iPad mini, on the other hand, doesn't it's too big.

According to a recent Accenture survey, consumer preferences for phablets are stronger in emerging countries than the developed world. Of consumers planning to buy a smartphone, roughly two-thirds in India, China and South Africa indicate that they'd prefer to buy a phablet. That contrasts to 40 percent of consumers in the U.S., 30 percent in Germany and 19 percent in Japan.

Sovie says that there are three reasons behind this. First, the phablet is the hot new device in counties that are adopting new technology at a faster pace than the U.S. and Western Europe, "where folks probably already had a smartphone and a tablet," he says.

"A lot of people are scratching their heads and asking, 'do I really need something in between?'" Sovie says. On the other hand, "If you're going into the market for the first time and have had neither a smartphone [n]or a tablet, this is the right combination device."

Second, it's easier to watch video on a phablet screen than on a smartphone screen. That matters in markets where video is widely consumed on mobile devices, Sovie says. (With Cisco Systems predicting that video will account for 79 percent of IP traffic by 2018, "markets" means just about everywhere.)

Competition is the third factor, Sovie says, and it has driven prices down. It's much easier in an emerging market to get a locally made, nonbranded device than it is in the U.S. While a branded phablet could cost up to $500 in the United States, Chinese consumers can get one for less than half that cost.

Most technology is touted as the "next big thing," but these three examples show that true innovations can convince consumers to skip what's next for something poised to have an even bigger impact. The examples also point to the challenge of predicting where today's trends such as wearable tech, the Internet of Things and big data will take us tomorrow.


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