Connected device usage diverges

3 April 2013

NEW YORK: Tablet devices are being used in very different ways to smartphones, research from Time Inc, the media group, has revealed.

The company ran an Innovation Panel Study of almost 1,000 tablet and smartphone owners during December 2012 and found that, even as the two devices approach each other in terms of size with the release of "phablet"-style devices, usage patterns are diverging.

Writing in Mobile Commerce Daily, Betsy Frank, chief research and insights officer of Time Inc, said that tablets are mostly used unwinding at home, while smartphones are more associated with being outside the home "on the go".

Frank contrasted the "me time" consumers spend relaxing with tablets with what she described as "found time" – those short pockets of time consumers have while waiting for a train or an appointment and when they reach for their mobile.

"Publishers and marketers need to program for these pockets visually and provide real substance in smaller doses," wrote Frank, "making "found time" a valuable find".

This divide is also apparent in how the devices are used. Wile people consume media such as newspapers and video on a tablet, they take and share photos, or refer to maps, on smartphones.


The crossover areas that are commonly used across both types of mobile device are getting news, reading emails and accessing social media and finding deals or coupons.

Frank also said that tablet owners are far more likely to use that device while watching TV than are smartphone owners. Around half of all tablet owners say they use their tablets at least half of all the time they are watching TV, but only one third of smartphone owners do this and more than 25% never do.

Ads are more accepted on tablets compared with smartphones, Frank said. "Tablets, increasingly, are media consumption devices, and advertising in media is a fact of life." But smartphones are "personal hubs" where ads are often regarded as intrusive.

Consequently, "marketers need to tread carefully into this very personal world of mobile, and consider the consumer and the context, rather than thinking about tablets and smartphones as two sides of the same coin," Frank added.

Data sourced from Mobile Commerce Daily; additional content by Warc staff