Sales Of The iPhone 6 Plus Have Settled A Long-Running Argument About Apple And Smartphones

Kevin Bostic

It’s been a question in the smartphone segment for years: are bigger Android smartphones selling because the people that buy them don’t want Apple’s iPhones, or are they buying them because Apple doesn’t make a big enough phone? Now, with sales estimates for the iPhone 6 Plus starting to trickle out, it looks like we’ve got an answer, and the news doesn’t look good for Android phone makers.

For years, smartphone industry observers have been calling for Apple to make a bigger iPhone, each predicting doom for the Cupertino tech giant if it didn’t follow the path set out by “rivals” like Samsung, HTC, and others. And, for years, Apple ignored the doomsayers and continued to push out iPhones at the size it wanted to; first with 3.5-inch screens, then with 4-inch screens.

All along, the tech critics promised that Apple was “Capital D” Doomed if it didn’t come out with a phone the size of Samsung’s Galaxy Note line, and all along Apple continued to pull in obscene profits.

Meanwhile, debate raged – no, really, raged: tech argument forums have a lot of raging – over whether devices like the Galaxy Note and HTC One were selling well because consumers wanted non-Apple smartphones or whether those consumers were waiting for Apple to come out with a comparably sized iPhone.

Now Apple has finally come out with the iPhone 6 Plus, and we can finally see the impact the larger-screened iPhone has had on what’s come to be known as the “phablet” market. It’s a pretty big impact.

Kantar World Panel, which measures this sort of thing, just came out with its most recent figures on smartphone sales in North America (h/t: 9to5Mac). Those figures show that the iPhone 6 Plus pulled in fully 41 percent of “phablet” sales – sales of smartphones with a screen size of 5.5 inches or larger. The market for larger-screened phones grew considerably, with big phones accounting for 10 percent of overall smartphone sales, compared to just two percent for the same period in 2013.

What’s that mean? Well, it’s a little bit early to tell exactly, because Apple’s iPhone launches invariably cause a big splash in the smartphone market. Add Kantar’s figures to the news out of GSM Arena that Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 is actually lagging behind the sales of the Galaxy Note 3 over the same launch period from last year, and it starts to look a bit like Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus may be eating into what was once pretty safe territory for its competitors.

On top of all that, more figures from Kantar support the notion that the iPhone 6 Plus is eating its competitors’ lunches. Kantar’s data suggests that nine percent of the people buying the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus were switching from an Android device.

Of course *ahem* knowledgeable types have known that this sort of thing was bound to happen for some time now.

What’s all this mean with regard to your smartphone? Very little, probably. Manufacturers are going to keep making their devices no matter how well the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus sell. All it really means is that, one way or another, the folks that like to argue about this kind of stuff on the internet just got a hot new topic. Oh, and Apple will continue to make a ton of money, but that’s kind of a given.

[Lead image via PhoneArena.]