Friday, July 6, 2012

More on Tablets and Media Use Habits

  A new study by Gartner of the media use habits of early tablet adopters suggests that the tablet is quickly becoming users' medium of choice.  The study of 500 early adopters in the U.S., U.K., and Australia used an online 7-day diary to track media and information activities. They found that tablet users are not merely supplementing their use of other media formats, but that tablets are quickly becoming the preferred mechanism for a number of media and information uses.
“The ongoing convergence of previously distinct devices seems to be turning the market for consumer devices from hardware-centric to usage-centric,” said (Gartner principal research analyst) Meike Escherich. “Other than their tablets, most respondents also owned PCs, TVs and mobile phones. The respondents, early adopters of media tablets, said they use their multiple devices interchangeably, rather than substituting one device for another. They seek to use whichever device is at hand — or the most convenient to use at a particular time and for a specific task.
  The survey and diaries showed that more than half of tablet owners preferred to read news, magazines, and books on screens rather than paper.  One in three tablet users reported reading books on their devices, a level of use much higher than for mobile PCs (13%) or smartphones (7%).  Tablets were the dominant connected medium used in homes, with users noting their use in living rooms (87%), bedrooms (65%), and kitchens (47%).  The top activities shifting from PC to tablet included checking email (81%), reading news (69%), checking weather forecasts (63%), social networking (62%), and gaming (60%). 
  In contrast, the smartphones portability and basic phone services kept it as the most widely used device outside the home and throughout the day.  Almost 80% of respondents reported using their phones in the living room, while almost two-thirds use them while in transit and at the workplace.  Smartphones are also the connected devices most used for tasks requiring a Web connection, averaging 8 tasks per day compared to two separate tasks a day for tablets, and three tasks a day for mobile PCs (laptops and netbooks).

  From my perspective, the most interesting finding is the interchangeability of devices - the result that audiences are shifting from going to a specific medium/source for information or entertainment, to using whatever devices are relevant and handy for getting the content they desire.  This is further evidence of what I think is one of the transformative trends of modern digital media - a shift from a habitual use of a particular media form, to a more active, focused, consumption of information or other media content independent of any specific delivery system.

Sources - Tablets Favored Device At Home,  Online Media Daily
Gartner Survey Highlights Top Five Daily Activities on Media Tablets, Gartner press release

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