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Apple's first phablet to play catch-up in a challenging market

- Large screen phones, or 'phablets', already comprise 30% smartphones in top markets
- Growth driven by the surge in online video consumption

Apple's iPhone 6 faces challenging launch conditions as it responds to the global growth of phablets. The brand, which has historically enjoyed a first-mover advantage, is playing catch-up in an established - and increasingly populated - phablet market.

Connected Life, a study of over 55,000 internet users worldwide by market research agency TNS, found that large screen phones, or 'phablets' have soared in popularity worldwide. In Asian markets such as South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore phablets already comprise over 30% of all smartphones. This presents a very tough market for Apple to infiltrate as it launches the iPhone 6.

The growth of phablets has been triggered by the surge in people watching online video on their smartphones. This is equally popular in markets with low access to other devices, with over 70% of internet users in Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa, 47% in Saudi Arabia, 45% in MEA and 44% in India now using their smartphones to watch online video. These markets are commonly perceived as 'late adopters', where Apple's strategy of targeting only premium users is not paying off.

Globally, smartphones are the world's number one digital device. They are now used more than tablets, laptops and desktops for social media (44%), general browsing (38%), general information (36%) and entertainment (33%). This rise in smartphone ownership has been driven by the declining cost of technology, increasing the challenge facing the iPhone 6, which becomes comparably more expensive, making it a premium device in an increasingly 'de-premiumised' marketplace.

Samsung is currently by far the most dominant force, with an average of 25% of smartphone market share globally. It is also enjoying widespread popularity in the phablet market, with over 66% share in both Hong Kong and South Korea as well as over 46% in both the US and UK, making it a very difficult market to crack.

Commenting ahead of the iPhone 6 launch, Joe Webb, Head of Digital for TNS APAC, said: "The competition in this space is now fierce, with research showing that the early adopter markets such as developed Asia are already using phablets in large numbers. Apple will face an altogether more complex challenge for a brand used to leading the field, not following.

"With rivals having enjoyed a head start in the phablet market, Apple will now need to compete not only with Samsung's existing expertise in developed markets but also the ecosystem that is developing around low cost Android devices in emerging markets. With the iPhone 6, Apple is launching a high end product into a densely populated market. This may be Apple's toughest launch yet."

About Connected Life

Connected Life is a leading global study of the digital attitudes and behaviours of 56,600 internet users across 50 countries, exploring how technology is transforming the lives of consumers across the world. It offers essential insight into the impact of the growing digital ecosystem on the media landscape.

Connected Life also uncovers new and exciting opportunities for marketers to connect with their consumers in this increasingly complex environment; it is a powerful tool that helps brands make better digital decisions.

The fieldwork was undertaken in all markets between March and June 2014.
For further information, visit

About TNS

TNS advises clients on specific growth strategies around new market entry, innovation, brand switching and customer and employee relationships, based on long-established expertise and market-leading solutions. With a presence in over 80 countries, TNS has more conversations with the world's consumers than anyone else and understands individual human behaviours and attitudes across every cultural, economic and political region of the world.

TNS is part of Kantar, the data investment management division of WPP and one of the world's largest insight, information and consultancy groups. Please visit for more information.

About Kantar

Kantar is the data investment management division of WPP and one of the world's largest insight, information and consultancy groups. By connecting the diverse talents of its 12 specialist companies, the group aims to become the pre-eminent provider of compelling and inspirational insights for the global business community. Its 27,000 employees work across 100 countries and across the whole spectrum of research and consultancy disciplines, enabling the group to offer clients business insights at every point of the consumer cycle. The group's services are employed by over half of the Fortune Top 500 companies. For further information, please visit us at

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10 Sep 2014 11:15