Fonblet: What We’ve All Waited For

Just when you thought you had the phablet thing down (and could say it in a serious tone without chuckling), Samsung decided to add another invented word to the mix: fonblet.

As one might imagine, the fonblet, like a phablet, is a converged phone and tablet. But as Techcrunch points out, perhaps the addition of handwriting recognition makes the fonbelt special.

Samsung used its recent analysts day to show where the company is heading. J.K. Shin, co-chief executive and head of the mobile business, said it expects to ship more than 100 million Galaxy S and Note devices this year. By 2015, VentureBeat reported, it expects to launch mobile devices with foldable displays, along with major advancements in its processor and memory technology. (Devices with bendable screens are expected next year.)

Talk about the big-screen phone the company wants us to start calling a fonblet and its handwriting recognition capacity is meant to allay investor jitters on fears that smartphone sales may be slowing and show that the company is developing technology, VentureBeat said.

But, really, fonblet? The phablet nomenclature was bad enough.

Kidding aside, call these devices whatever you fancy. The more important things are how these converged devices will change the smart connected device landscape, how fast consumers will adopt them, and (specifically for EBN readers) how the design and supply chain will respond to next-generation product predictions and growth estimations.

International Data Corp. recently said it expects tablet shipments to surpass PC shipments this quarter. PCs will retain an edge for the full-year count, but the firm forecasts that tablet shipments will overtake PC shipments in that category by the end of 2015. High-volume smartphone shipments are expected to surpass 1.4 billion units in 2015 and account for 69% of all smart connected device shipments worldwide.

In addition to predicting a wave of low-cost devices that will spark interest among first-time buyers worldwide in the next few quarters in price-sensitive markets like education, IDC says there could soon be a new round of device cannibalization. This time, large-screen smartphones (five inches or more) will start impacting small tablets (7-8 inches).

“The device world has seen several iterations of cannibalization impacting different categories, with the last few years focused on tablets cannibalizing PC sales,” Bob O'Donnell, IDC's program vice president for clients and displays, said in a press release. “Over the next 12-18 months, however, we believe the larger smartphones, commonly called 'phablets', will start to eat into the smaller-size tablet market, contributing to a slower growth rate for tablets.”

A name may be just a name, but a device may not be just a device. As Samsung and competitors duke it out on the form factor side and add features they hope will lure the masses to their corner, consumers will be their fickle selves and try to figure out what's the difference between a PC, a smartphone, a tablet, a phablet, and a fonblet. And they probably won't care as long they have their camera, email, photos, and social media links all together in their pocket.

31 comments on “Fonblet: What We’ve All Waited For

  1. jbond
    November 26, 2013

    Personally I say call it what you want. I think the phones are getting to large. I like my phone to be functional but realistically who uses all of the functions on their phone or even half?

  2. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    November 27, 2013

    I know it's probably more expensive and perhaps less efficient but i prefer having separate devices. I have a phone. I have an e-reader. I have a tablet. I use each for the things that they do best. Maybe that makes me an consumer electronics dream customer.

  3. Michael Steinhart
    November 27, 2013

    What about Bluetooth paired with a fonblet, so you're not trying to hold a large device to your ear? I think the convergence possibilities are going to explode. The fonblet or phablet might work with an unobtrusive heads-up display like Google Glass, a headset, or both!

  4. Michael Steinhart
    November 27, 2013

    I think this whole 'separate devices' thing isn't going to last. Look how many functions my phone handles already!

    My wife, meanwhile, has an 8-inch tablet that has e-reader functions but no phone. But wait! Use it with Gchat or Skype, for two examples, and it supports voice conversations over distances.

    Now, the ubiquity of WiFi and the reliability of these services are still not 100% (by a long shot), but is it so far-fetched to say that these combinations will obviate traditional cell phones in the middle future?

    Or will the telcos fight tooth and nail to make sure there's never parity?


  5. Adeniji Kayode
    November 27, 2013


    I agee with you on that. I use to be like that too- “Having all your need met in one device” but somehow I noticed a device with much features and functions is less efficient especially in terms of battery-life therby still limiting what you could do.

  6. prabhakar_deosthali
    November 27, 2013

    Fonblets or Phablets – whatever these devices are called, these devices are becoming more and more bulkier to be able to carry them in hand or in your pockets.


    What if we are able to keep these devices at home or  in our bag , and use NFC/bluetooth or some kind of a wireless connection with our ears and eyes so that we do not have to physically hold them while at least receiving calls.

    Also instead of having hand writing recognition /touch pad or a keypad if we have voice activated phones  taking our command from the wireless microphone attached to our head set ,then they can be operated hands free  even for other smart functions .


  7. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    November 27, 2013

    @Michael, I think you may be right. I also think that voice recognition may make a big difference in the conversation.

  8. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    November 27, 2013

    THe channel convergence opportunities are extreme. When traditioanl PBX came on the scene, the telco installers and the IT pros went head to head. I suspect we'll have a similar scenario as organizatoins figure out who is going to support these new types of devices. 

    I like my variety anyhow… so i may be the holdout.


  9. t.alex
    November 27, 2013

    This is something exciting thanks to the handwritting recognition capability. I am not sure if many people really use voice recognition function in phone, but handwritting is something OEM can focus on and make the difference.

  10. Houngbo_Hospice
    November 27, 2013

    If I have to choose between handwritting on tablets and typing with a keyboard, I think I wiil prefer the typing option. Handwrittting capability features sound interesting, but not a game changer in the tablet/phablet/Fonblet market.

  11. Lavender
    November 27, 2013

    prabhakar, the function you imaged is interesting and convenient. But for most consumers, especially young users, more time is spent in browsing, blog, facebook and other social societies; so a screen is necessary. 

  12. Lavender
    November 27, 2013

    Hailey, when the smartphone size reaches more than 5 inch, I really don't know the difference with tablets. I can read books, see video, and do other things in one device. At the same time, I cast doubt to wearable devices with similar functions but smaller screen. (except wearable medical devices)

  13. ahdand
    November 27, 2013

    @Lily: Exactly but many go for the big screen and camera in a smart phone rather than going for a tab. I simply have no idea but that is the trend. Sometimes they too do not have a clue why it is.       

  14. ahdand
    November 27, 2013

    @Lily: True screen is necessary but the size does matter a lot.        

  15. ahdand
    November 27, 2013

    @Hospice: Yes its not an easy thing for everyone to do. If you are a pro in it yes definitely you can but when it comes for typing anyone can do it.         

  16. ahdand
    November 27, 2013

    @t.alex: How about a voice recognition typing feature ? Its being implemented but just need to fine tune it and get it across to the market.          

  17. SunitaT
    November 28, 2013

    How about a voice recognition typing feature ?

    @nimantha.d, how safe do you think is this voice recognition feature? Isn't it easy to mimic the voice ?

  18. Lavender
    November 28, 2013

    Nimantha.d, what's thought about wearable devices in entertainment?

  19. Lavender
    November 28, 2013

    For video, game and e-book, large screen is better. 

  20. t.alex
    November 28, 2013



    yes, a lots and lots of tuning for many many languages and voices.

  21. ahdand
    November 28, 2013

    @talex: But still don't you think it's a worthy effort ?          

  22. ahdand
    November 28, 2013

    @Lily: Yes but still the phone is to make calls or send SMS right ? Others are secondary isn't it ? So why give prominence to a secondary factor ?           

  23. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    November 29, 2013

    @t.alex, I am going to date myself here but i remember when the Palm Pilots had handwriting recogntion but you had to learn a sort of shorthand (I always thought of dictation marks). I learned it and it was reallly great–if vendors can get to real hadnwriting recognition that's going to be really useful.

  24. t.alex
    November 29, 2013

    nimantha.d, yes definitely. However, I won't much see people using voice feature. Perhaps they only use when there is noone around.

  25. t.alex
    November 29, 2013

    Hailey, have you tried the Google Translate app? It has handwritten recognition actually. 

  26. jbond
    November 30, 2013

    I agree Hailey. I too have a smart phone, tablet, e-reader and laptop. I feel it is much easier.

  27. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    December 2, 2013

    You have a point–i work in a home based office and I use the voice recognition a lot. My husband works in an open plan workspace and he said he would find it unbelievably distracting to have the constant talking.

  28. Lavender
    December 3, 2013

    Right, nimantha.d. Making calls ranks the first. But in terms of application, users can spend a whole day in video and games, but no would gives calls for a whole day, that is why smartphone manufacturers pay more and more attention to pixel, resolution, game. 

    When I go home by bus, I see most people are using their phones to watch videos, playing games and read novels. 

  29. t.alex
    December 6, 2013

    Lily, and sometimes they do make video calls, given the better speed of 4G nowadays 🙂

  30. Adeniji Kayode
    December 14, 2013

    @ t.alex, Its seems the voice recognition feature might have little set back when it comes to typing and will get better over time but I have found his feature more reliable in application in hotels and cars than in tablets and smart phones

  31. Wale Bakare
    December 14, 2013

    We would see more innovations sooner. Is likely keyboard typing might probably disappear, replacing with touch screen and voice recognition.

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