Phablets have been slow to catch on in the US and Europe. But in developing markets, they're huge – by one estimate, more than 25 million phablets shipped to customers in the Asia-Pacific region in the first quarter of 2012 alone. (That number does not include Japan.)
In an interview with the Guardian earlier this month, analyst Joshua Flood of ABI Research speculated that the strong numbers could be attributed to a growing realization on the part of consumers "that a nearly 5-inch screen isn't such a cumbersome device."
The latest evidence of the phablet craze comes from the tech site FocusTaiwan, which reports (hat tip to Mashable) that Samsung has sold 40 million Note devices over the past two years. The first device in Samsung's phablet line debuted in 2011; the most recent Note, the Note 3, hit shelves in several countries earlier this month. A North America launch will follow in early October.
The Note 3 has received strong marks from critics.
"To use a term of phrase borrowed from that other mobile giant, this is Samsung's best Note yet," Engadget wrote this week. "It's better in pretty much every way, with the possible exception of that speaker. The display is bigger, but it never makes the device feel inflated, which is some sort of dark magic in its own right. Either way, we applaud Samsung for consistently making this series better and better."
Samsung, which helped establish the phablet vertical, has long been its dominant force. But that may not last. As analytics firm IDC recently pointed out, Samsung's share of the phablet market has shrunk from 90 percent in 2011 to 50 percent today.