Do you remember the term ?phablet?? It was coined a few years ago to denote the hybrid of phone+tablet. All smartphones with a screen size larger than 5-inches were termed phablets. We don?t use that term anymore for 5-inch or even 6-inch phones are now the norm. There are two points we are trying to portray here:

  • The market is increasingly moving towards larger screens
  • The outlier at one point may become the mainstream at another

That?s enough for hardware. Now let?s roll to the software segment. When businesses plan to launch an application, they have to formulate strategies to reach the maximum audience at minimum cost. That is, they target the largest chunk of users first and then make their way downward. If you are confused, consider this data that shows the percent of users with phones of particular screen size:

Screen SizeMarket Share

Now because optimizing an app for any particular screen size takes time, i.e billing hours, businesses have to make trade-offs between investments and returns. In the case mentioned above, they would obviously first build the application that is optimized for the 5-inch screen. Then if the budget allows, they would optimize for 6-inch displays and so on.

While this approach seems quite pragmatic and beneficial in maximizing ROI, it suffers from a critical flaw. If you carefully look at the table above, it prioritizes optimizing apps for 4-inch and 4.7-inch displays against 6.5-inch. And on the first glance, it seems feasible because those smaller screens combinedly capture a market share of 25% against 5% of the larger screen. But that runs contrary to the larger trend we discussed earlier.

Mobile phones have a really short lifecycle. That means, even if larger screens capture lesser market share now, they are still a better bet keeping future in mind. The best example of this long-term approach can be seen in case Evernote. While it already dominates the smartphone segment, it has invested in other platforms like Windows and Chrome OS as well. That is, no matter where the trend leads, they would be ready to reap the benefits. This is a fact that top mobile app development services realize and thus are consistently updating their tech stack to ensure a wider reach.

But what exactly optimization means anyway?

It depends on what screen you are optimizing for. If it?s a larger screen, it would mean using the extra space to deliver more features. It can be something as small as changing the design or something as relevant as offering multi-window support. It?s just a matter of how much you are willing to invest to optimize your app for any particular screen size.

For smaller screens, optimization is much trickier. There you have to either cut down some features or reorganize the app for a clutter-free experience.

Now let?s circle back to our initial discussion of larger trends in the smartphone market. The conundrum that most businesses face is that if they focus on current market structure, they can rapidly acquire users and break even on the cost of mobile app development but may miss out the future opportunities. While if they focus on the future, they have to suffer poor ROI for a time before their long-term strategy comes to fruition.

The solution that we suggest is to take a phased approach. Start optimizing for current trends and then use the immediate returns to invest in future investments. That is, you must optimize your app for screen sizes and it?s just a matter of which one you prioritize.

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