Flurry Finds That Apple Devices And Phablets Scored Big On Christmas

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Flurry has released its annual Christmas report. Each year, the holiday sees the highest number of device activations and app installations as people open presents, and last week was no exception. What is interesting is that 51.3 percent of new devices activated were made by Apple, compared to 17.7 percent for Samsung, and 5.8 percent for Nokia.

Other smartphone makers, including Xiaomi, Huawei, and HTC, each held a less than one percent share on Christmas Day, despite holding large slices of the worldwide smartphone market. As Flurry notes, that is because their key markets are in Asia, where the holiday is not a gift-giving bonanza.

Apple’s success was driven by the iPhone 6, the number one device activated, and iPhone 6 Plus. Flurry, which compiled the report using data from the 600,000 apps it tracks, the iPhone 6 Plus was one of the top five devices activated this Christmas. In general, phablets became increasingly popular among consumers. In the week before Christmas, 13 percent of new device activations were phablets, a significant increase from 4 percent in 2013.

Flurry says that the availability of an iOS model is helping to drive phablet sales. Larger smartphones, however, started becoming commonplace instead of being seen as novelties even before the iPhone 6 Plus was released. Back in January, Juniper Research estimated that phablets were expected to hit 120 million units shipped by 2018, up from the estimated 20 million phablets shipped in 2013.

Many analysts expected that growing sales of phablets would eat into tablet sales as users start depending on one mobile device instead of juggling two, and Flurry’s holiday research underscores that. Sales of tablets, as well as smaller smartphones, decreased as phablets became more popular, which means developer used to designing for palm-sized screens may have to start rethinking their work.

“App developers should take into account the fact that larger screens are becoming the primary device; it’s not just the secondary primetime tablet anymore,” Flurry noted.

Owners of new mobile devices were eager to start downloading apps. As usual, Christmas was a big day for app installs, with Flurry tracking 2.5 times the number of downloads, compared to an average day in the earlier part of December. Despite the bump, Christmas Day app installs have gradually decreased over the past few years because more people own smartphones and tablets now, so the novelty of playing with apps is beginning to wear off.

Still, this year’s spike was “a remarkable number considering the maturity of the U.S. market and the difficulty of getting recognized in app stores,” Flurry said. As usual, games and messaging apps were the most popular downloads on Christmas Day.