South Korea device market absolutely phabulous: report

16 Oct 2013

ITEM: South Korea has been declared the phablet capital of the world.

So says a new report from mobile advertising/analytics firm Flurry Analytics on the South Korean device market, which Flurry also says is the most saturated device market in the world.

“During late 2011 and early 2012, the South Korean connected device market grew more rapidly than the worldwide market,” writes Flurry’s Mary Ellen Gordon in a blog post on the new report, adding that it was during that time that Samsung launched its Galaxy Note phablet, enabling Samsung to capture two-thirds of the local mobile phone market, and driving rapid growth:

Given that South Korea’s rapid period of connected device growth was ushered in by the phablet, it is perhaps not surprising that it continues to surpass the rest of the world in its preference for that form factor. [...] In a worldwide sample of 97,963 iOS and Android devices, only 7% were phablets, but for South Korea that percentage was 41%. The appeal of phablets in South Korea appears to suppress the tablet market there. Worldwide, 19% of the devices in our sample were tablets compared to only 5% in South Korea.

Flurry also notes that the South Korean smart-device market hits saturation levels, it will also serve as a barometer for the future direction of the device market. Gordon predicts two likely trends: (1) new uses for connected devices, particularly mobile payments (including contactless payments, in-app purchases and gift certificates), and (2) interoperability across connected devices, although in Korea that will likely be driven by Samsung’s dominance:

The fact that Samsung manufactures smartphones, tablets, and connected TVs (as well as other consumer electronics that are becoming part of the Internet of things) makes it well-positioned to better integrate those devices and the content that runs on them. With Samsung being so dominant in South Korea and that market being so well developed for connected devices, it is a logical test market for products and services that take advantage of that type of cross-device integration.

Stats and colorful charts here.

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