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Sales of extra-large smartphones will take off in 2014: tech prediction

MONTREAL - An oversized smartphone that could appeal to consumers who do less talking and more video watching is expected to outsell tablets and gaming consoles worldwide in 2014.

The so-called "phablet" — part tablet and part smartphone with an average screen size of five inches — will represent one quarter of all smartphones sales next year, Deloitte Canada predicts.

"People are either talking less and willing to buy bigger phones, or they buy bigger phones and start talking less," said Deloitte analyst Duncan Stewart, who compiles an annual list of tech trends.

Stewart said that smartphone users don't watch a lot of video or play higher end games because of the smaller screen, but they tend to change their habits once they have a bigger screen. That's the appeal of the phablet, he said.

"All of a sudden the video experience is transformed, the gaming experience is transformed," he said from Toronto.

Some examples of phablets include the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Sony's Experia Z Ultra.

Apple's iPhone 5 now offers consumers a four-inch screen,while a number of smartphones have smaller, 3.5-inch screen displays.

As part of its 2014 tech predictions, Deloitte Canada said 300 million phablets will be sold globally in 2014 at an average price of $415 for total sales approaching $125 billion. In Canada, phablets are expected to make up 10 to 15 per cent of smartphone sales next year.

They represented just two per cent of smartphones sold in 2012. Figures for this year are still being compiled.

In 2014, global sales of tablets are expected to be $100 billion, while sales of gaming consoles are forecast at $10 billion.

Phablets are considered smartphones because they make phone calls. Even though the device is bigger to hold up to one's ear, consumers can use earpieces or also choose to carry a smaller phone to put into a pant's pocket for calls, said Stewart, director of research at Deloitte.

Stewart also said phablets could appeal to seniors because of their larger screen size and increase their use of smartphones. Only about 40 per cent of seniors now use smartphones, he said.

As for Stewart's predictions from 2013, he said he was correct in predicting that more than 80 per cent of Internet traffic would continue to be generated from personal computers, both laptops and desktop models.

He also said he accurately predicted that fewer than one per cent of Canadians would cut the cord and discontinue their traditional TV service in 2013.

Although the number of Canadians subscribing to cable, Internet Protocol television or satellite TV has declined so far in 2013, the dropp is just over 10,000 households, Stewart said. There are 11.8 million TV subscribers in Canada.

Deloitte Canada will release the rest of its predictions for 2014 in January.

The Canadian Press

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