What Do You Use Your Tablet For, Really?

By Gary Kim June 23, 2011

Tablets are said to be “content consumption” devices, and a new study, conducted by Frank N. Magid Associates, in collaboration with the Online Publishers Association (OPA), that surveyed 2,482 people, between the ages of 8 to 64, backs up that contention. The study found that tablets are preferred to PCs for virtually every form of content consumption. Some 87 percent of U.S. tablet users are accessing content and information on their devices, the dominant activity for tablets, says new study. About 58 percent report playing games, the same percentage as report listening to music.

One could get an argument about whether or not the iPad is a device that can be used to actually get any work done, aside from functioning as an email device, note-taking device or social network monitoring or posting device.

There is a reason enterprise workers are adopting tablets as replacements for notebooks in many instances. But the reason, so far, seems to be that in many instances, enterprise workers do not need most of the features of a PC (notebook) to get their actual work tasks done, because in many settings, or in many work roles, there just isn’t a need to create much content.

Perhaps, in retrospect, we should have gleaned that insight from the heavy use of devices such as the BlackBerry, which indicated that ability to use email remotely was, in fact, quite a productivity booster.

But tablet use also suggests that, though another device users can employ when they are at meetings, or out of the office, the primary advantage is about the same as carrying a smart phone: people can respond to, and create emails. In most cases, I haven’t noticed heavy use even for note taking.

Beyond that, just about everybody needs access to web apps or sites, and a tablet arguably is much better than a smart phone for that purpose. Still, it would be hard to make an argument that a tablet is the “best” device for tasks other than consuming content.

The OPA study showed that 51 percent of respondents use a social network on their tablets, while 49 percent say they watch videos. About 42 percent read books on their tablets.

As it turns out, people seem to naturally view the tablet as a content consumption device. You might also say tablets are “app consumption” devices. That likewise has implications for content marketers who are thinking about apps. As it turns out, both the content consumption habit and the “app download” habit seem to be well established among tablet users.

Fully 93 percent of tablet users have downloaded apps and the average tablet user has downloaded 20 apps. Some 79 percent of app downloaders have paid for apps in the last 12 months and 26 percent of all apps downloaded are paid apps, the study found.

On average, those who have downloaded apps on tablets have spent $53 on apps in the past 12 months.

In addition to iTunes, Amazon and Google, 29 percent of tablet users would prefer to buy apps from their cable company or Internet access provider and 25 percent would prefer to buy their apps directly from publishers.

Some 54 million U.S. online users will use tablets by early 2012, representing 23 percent of U.S. online user. The study found that tablet users view tablets as their preferred reading device over computers and printed media for many types of content, including weather, entertainment, news, sports and financial information.

The study also found that long-form video is preferred over short clips, on tablets. That should ultimately have important implications for providers of online video services, as it establishes the suitability of the tablet for long-form video of the sort sold by multichannel video providers and Netflix. Fully 55 percent of respondents watched full-length movies on their tablets and 56 percent watched full-length TV shows.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2011, taking place Sept. 13-15, 2011, in Austin, Texas. ITEXPO offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. To register, click here.


Gary Kim is a contributing editor for TechZone360. To read more of Gary’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

Contributing Editor

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