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The iPad age is over: The time of the iPad Mini and phablet is upon us

But the wearables epoch is a way off as only 10m will sell in 2014 says Deloitte

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The age of the iPad is over, as tablets like the iPad Mini that sport screens of eight-and-a-half or fewer inches will out-sell their larger brethren and come to represent the largest population of in-use fondleslabs around the world.

So says global consultancy Deloitte in its annual Technology, Media and Telecommunications predictions report, issued today, which also says phablets are so hot right now they will outsell TVs in Asia during 2014.

Deloitte says the low price of smaller tablets is the reason for their surge, but that the low-powered, dimly-screened and wimpy-CPU-bearing devices sold cheap find roles doing one or two things around the home. The larger screens and greater horsepower of what it calls “classic” tablets see them retain their position as premium devices that are used for multiple roles at home and in the office.

Watching video and conducting e-commerce, Deloitte said, are less likely to happen on a cheap and small tablet because their screen size makes complex chores tricky. That's not entirely bad news for the likes of Google and Amazon, as punters turn to cheap 'slabs because they can serve as e-readers, thereby ensuring they still represent a conduit to content purchasing. But it also goes some way towards explaining why Apple crams so many pixels and fancy CPUs into the iPad Mini: the better the screen, the greater the chance of more content purchases.

The consultancy also offered some opinions on wearable gadgets and the news is not stellar: just 10m are expected to sell in 2014 and 4m of those will be smart glasses. Smart watches won't happen, the firm said, because early adopters of gadgets are mostly young folks who collectively aren't keen on wrist-mounted timepieces. Fitness gadgets will continue to do alright.

Smart glasses, it was suggested, will be the subject of serious scrutiny by business, either for in-house use for safety and rapid information delivery apps, or as a target for creation of tools like augmented reality apps for tourists.

The report also says that phablets – phones with screens five inches or larger – have already grabbed 25 per cent of the smartphone market. The devices do especially well in Asia and the Middle East, partly because their larger screens make it easier to input and read text in Hindi, Arabic or Mandarin. Asian consumers also love both gaming and mobile video and phablets are a better platform on which to enjoy both than a smartphone.

The firm therefore expects more phablets than TVs to to ship in Asia during 2014.

The news isn't all good for smartphones and tablets: Deloitte says refresh cycles are slowing as punters hang on to their gadgets for longer, a reflection of their increasing price and sophistication. ®

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