LONDON: Consumers in the UK are using PCs, tablets and smartphones for a diverse range of reasons, suggesting they may come to play a complementary, rather than competing, role.

The IAB, the trade body, Sparkler, the insights group, and On Device Research, the panel provider, polled over 600 people owning two or more devices from a list of smartphones, PCs, laptops and tablets.

Some 36% of interviewees predicted the desktop PC would remain their "preferred format" among these options in the future, the highest score here.

For 53% of smartphone owners, the main advantage of their handset was that it is the "easiest to pick up", while 46% saw it as the fastest way to acquire information.

Turning to tablets, 49% of the current audience regarded them as the "easiest to pick up", 37% pointed to an easy-to-use interface and 31% "always preferred" their slate to the available alternatives.

When assessing the precise roles of these channels, 72% of the sample concurred that PCs stored important data, 68% viewed them as "secure" and 53% thought they helped individuals develop their interests.

Looking at smartphones, 95% of people possessing such handsets believed they enabled users to keep in touch while on the move, 78% said they facilitated social interaction and the same number enjoyed having "up to date information at their fingertips".

Tablets were perceived as yielding diffuse benefits, with 19% of subscribers prioritising entertainment, 16% using them to "explore new things" and 12% to "express my identity or make a statement".

Accessing email was still the most common pastime on a PC, with a 61% anticipated uptake rate on the day of the study, standing at 45% for social networking and 28% for ecommerce.

On the same measure, social networks took top spot for smartphone users on 60%, ahead of email's 57%. Within the tablet user base, 57% of people also expected to check their email that day, hitting 51% for social networking and 35% for online retail.

Elsewhere, three-quarters of respondents had clicked on an ad in the last month, and 52% did so to "learn" about goods and services.

An 82% share of participants owning a smartphone and PC would prefer not to pay for content in return for being exposed to ads on the side of web pages, a figure reaching 73% among those with these devices and a tablet.

Data sourced from IAB; additional content by Warc staff