It’s no secret that mobile is a big part of any digital marketing play nowadays. But as gadget makers crank out new types of smartphones and tablets, marketers are going to need to embrace phablets and wearables, according to a new report.

In a whitepaper released last week, Netbiscuits, a mobile analytics solutions provider, listed a number of device trends that will affect how marketers reach their audiences in 2015. One of the big ones? The rise of the phablet, or the phones which sport screens between five to seven inches in size.

At one time, users might have scoffed and considered those monstrous proportions to be way too much, but now those dimensions are actually relatively normal. Even Apple got on board this year with its launch of the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus, both smartphones that were quite a bit larger than their predecessors.

iPhone 6
The iPhone 6. (Image: Alex Davies).

Between April and October, phablets doubled their share of mobile web traffic. Leaping from seven per cent in April to 14 per cent in October, the researchers behind the Netbiscuits report predicted that by April 2015, phablets will make up about a quarter of total web traffic.

All this goes to show that mobile device users seem to be embracing larger devices, especially as they continue to use their smartphones for more than just phone calls and texts – after all, a bigger screen makes it a lot more comfortable to read, shop online, or watch videos. And that means marketers are going to have to think of experiences that work across smartphones and tablets, as well as in the murky, grey area we call phablets.

Aside from preferences on screen size, marketers will also need to pay attention to wearable tech, according to the Netbiscuits report. Tablets haven’t proven themselves to be a big mover and shaker in sales, and there’s a huge amount of competition among handset makers to gain footing in smartphones – so that’s left a lot of vendors hoping to be among the first to crack the code on wearable devices like smartwatches.

While smartwatches aren’t exactly new, there hasn’t been a smartwatch as of yet that’s really caught on with mainstream consumers. That could change in 2015, Netbiscuits researchers noted.

“Marketers will need to watch this segment with care. It could grow extremely rapidly, especially as the Apple Watch is expected next year. It will once again have major implications for how consumers wish to interact with brands,” they wrote.

To get consumers using smartwatches, a lot of them will probably need to upgrade to the latest versions of mobile operating systems, like iOS 8 for Apple and Android 4.4, KitKat, or Android 5.0, Lollipop.

smartwatch
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

But what’s most interesting for marketers is the possibility that consumers might basically do a switchback by first embracing larger screens, and then swinging back towards the tiny screens found on smartwatches. The display size pendulum will be yet another adjustment, the report authors noted.

“Longer term, it will see the return of the micro screen and brands will need to think carefully about navigation and interaction methods on a micro screen website,” they wrote.

However, this doesn’t mean tablets are going to be totally out of the picture by 2015. While they haven’t been as hot a seller as some vendors might have hoped, Android tablets, in particular, might make a good stocking stuffer.

While iPads are still pretty expensive, Android tablets might be a good entry level device for people who haven’t had them up until now. They’re already popular in developing markets like India, where hardware makers are building tablets for specific target groups, like kids, seniors, women, and business executives.

Trends like those have led Netbiscuits to predict Android will eventually outstrip iOS tablets by April 2015 – making this yet another area for marketers to watch. If they want to ensure mobile experiences work well across devices, they’ll need to adjust their sites to fit Android tablets – a market segment where device screen sizes can vary, just like the versions of Android operating systems that consumers are running.

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