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No one size fits mobile: Smartphone and Tablets need to be looked separately

The world is definitely moving towards Android as a preferred OS for mobile devices. The OS does not yet dominate the tablet market, but is projected to account for 80 per cent of smartphone users and nearly 70 per cent of tablet users by 2016, as per the GlobalWebIndex Stream Device Report – Q1 2013. Only real competition is from iOS, and Windows, Blackberry and Symbian can be easily discounted. When catering to these set of OS users, the challenge for marketers is only at a technological level, which is easier to tackle.

Marketers globally have just about started understanding digital, when a new challenge – mobile has been thrown at them. The survey conducted by GlobalWebIndex amongst 180,000 internet users in 31 markets in the age group of 16-64, won’t for sure be music to their ears. They cannot think mobile strategy as one. The strategy has to be two-pronged – smartphone and tablet. Both have a different user and distinct usage purposes and patterns.

While a smartphone may be a preferred device for checking emails and doing some quick search and playing pass-time games, it is the tablet – owing to its size, which allows better viewing that it becomes a preferred medium when it comes to shopping online or watching complete movies.

While the usage of smartphone cuts across age groups and gender, tablet users tend to be more middle-aged, wealthier, and more male than average. They are also far more fashionable and more likely to engage with brands online.

Web consumption also varies significantly depending on device. While the most popular activities are equally popular across devices, it is tablet users who are most likely to consume online content and be more active online in general via their devices.

Compared to the average global internet user, the research shows that tablet users are 57 per cent more likely to follow current fashions, 55 per cent more likely to say that their favourite brand plays a crucial role in their online experience, and 43 per cent more likely to frequently tell friends and family about new product and services.

On current trends, penetration of internet access via a smartphone is set to reach nearly 80 per cent at a global level by Q1 2016.

Penetration of internet access through a Tablet is also likely to grow significantly to reach nearly 45 per cent by Q1 2016.

Interestingly, overarching trends in the workplace and the labour force seem to be having an effect on PC usage. Personal PC usage is expected to remain constant over the three years while work PC usage is expected to decline significantly based on current trends.

While there could be many drivers behind these trends, the Report sees three key drivers behind the decline in work PC usage:

The increase in corporate usage of smartphones and tablets as primary devices.
The rise in “bring your own device” in the workplace, and
The increase in contracting and freelance work – driving this trend in device usage as making a significant impact as well while maintaining personal PC usage.

While Android tablets dominate most markets, there are a few key exceptions where the iPad has higher market share – US, UK and Japan. For the most part, these are the same markets where the iPhone has the highest share of the smartphone user base, but even countries such as Vietnam report higher iOS penetration among tablet users. This reflects the demographic composition of such countries where tablets are still confined to wealthier subsets of the internet universe.

Marketers will clearly have to revisit their mobile strategies and think tablet and smartphone separately. The strategy on tablet would be more content driven which could be videos, blogs and lead generation; meanwhile strategy for mobile could be contextual to search, in-game advertising and search lead.