Why tablets and smartphones are not the same
It is perhaps unsurprising to observe that more people own smartphones than tablets. In the US, for example, 58% of adults own a smartphone vs. 42% who own a tablet. But despite a higher percentage of adults owning a smartphone – possibly due to its smaller and perceivably more convenient size, an increase in mobile optimised sites, it seems that when it comes to online shopping, users prefer to shop on their tablet devices.
This is just one example of the differing uses between smartphones and tablets. There are however a few other different behaviours that characterise the two devices. It is indeed useful to treat them as different – rather than simply lumping them under the umbrella term of ‘mobile devices’
So why are we talking about this now?
Recent research by Forresters has predicted that, in the US, m-commerce will exceed $74B by 2018 for mobile users and $219B for tablet users. A piece of research by Frank N. Magid Associates has found that tablet users spend more on apps compared to smartphone users.
Given the larger screen that tablet users are offered, it is perhaps logical to understand the reason for consumers preferring to shop and spend on their favourite products and services using their tablets.Tablet users have the benefit of a fuller, more detailed picture in one screen – advantageous when shopping online and when playing games. Hence, tablet owners are provided with a more holistic view of their on-screen surroundings.
Smartphones and tablets have different uses
These findings may also be explained by the fact that smartphones are used to a greater extent ‘on-the-go’, whereas tablet users use this device when they have a little more time –when they are settling down for a commute or in front of the TV in the evening. Research carried out in the 2014 Mobile Behaviour Report found that 65% of tablet owners say they use their tablet in front of the TV at least daily.
The two most popular uses of tablet devices are for email and internet surfing: 69% of tablet users email on their tablet device at least daily while 70% use their device daily for the internet. By contrast, a greater percentage of smartphone users use their smartphone to email, a 91% while 90% use it for text messaging.
The notion that consumers prefer to shop on tablets rather than smartphones is backed by a finding of our recent research which found that for 24% of respondents, the main obstacle encountered whilst attempting to purchase on their mobile phone or tablet was difficulty seeing the fields. Furthermore, 16% say they find browsing on their mobile device difficult. It seems logical that this would be reduced when browsing on a tablet compared to a smartphone.
Maximise their individual strengths
So it seems that tablet and smartphone users use their devices in very different ways. This presents an opportunity for brands to not simply lump the two together under the umbrella of ‘mobile devices’, but to develop separate m-commerce strategies to maximise the differing qualities and uses of each.
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