Like neon workout gear and big headphones, cell phones of Gordon Gekko proportions appear poised for a comeback, with reports this week that Apple is testing out a larger iPhone and iPad.
Apple Inc.’s Asian suppliers say the company has asked to see prototypes and designs for smartphones larger than the 4-inch iPhone 5, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Apple reportedly also asked for screen designs for a new tablet device measuring slightly less than 13 inches diagonally — significantly bigger than the 9.7-inch iPad and 7.9-inch iPad Mini.
“The more you want to play games and watch video, the more you will care for a wider screen size,” says Mike Vorhaus, president of media consulting firm Magid Advisors. In fact, 45% of smartphone owners play games on their phones regularly and are downloading more games on their phone, a June 2013 survey by Magid Advisors found. The success of tablets like the iPad — over 140 million sold in the past three years — makes manufacturers even more interested in finding that middle ground between phone and tablet, says Pachter, “so we’re headed that way.”
There is also another reason companies like Apple might want to make their smartphones ad- and game-friendly: to generate more revenue. The average smartphone gamer downloaded three paid games in the past year, driving the market for paid downloads up 122% year over year, according to Magid, which surveyed 2,400 Internet users ages 8 to 64 for the 2013 Magid Media Futures survey. Including tablet users, mobile gamers spent $1.7 billion over the past 12 months.
The smartphone has also become a mini-TV for many consumers, Vorhaus says. Some 38% of smartphone owners regularly watch video on their phones, he says, and 40% of them are watching full-length movies and TV shows on their smartphones. Why? More people take their smartphones — rather than their tablets — with them wherever they go. Still, a large proportion of tablet owners use their devices to watch video: 63%, according to the Magid survey.