Tablets: The Next Big Digital Frontier


ADOTAS — Tablets are big business. According to Forrester, 375 million tablets will be sold worldwide in 2016 and 760 million will be in use overall, which is over 10 percent of the world population. Furthermore, while tablet sales are expected to surge by nearly 70 percent, shipments of PCs are expected to decline by nearly 8 percent globally this year, per a report from Gartner. As more consumers flock toward what has become the hottest device on the market, all signs point to the tablet being the next big platform.

Consumer usage

Not only are tablets being bought in droves, consumers are spending a lot of time engaging with the device as well. The average American spends 2 hours and 38 minutes a day on their smartphone and tablet, and 68% of tablet users said that they spend at least one hour a day on the device.

Usage is even beginning to dwarf that of other devices. Forty-three percent of users now use their tablet more than their desktop, while 28% use their tablet as their primary PC and 77% have decreased their PC usage.

Tablets are also taking timeshare away from TV. One in every three users now use their tablet more than they watch TV. The tablet is becoming a very popular alternative when it comes to viewing content; time spent watching online video on tablets rose 110% in Q4 2012. Even when consumers are watching TV, they’re still engaged with their tablet. In a Nielsen survey, 88 percent of US tablet owners say they have had both their tablet and television on at the same time.

Impact on e-commerce

Tablets have had a profound impact on online shopping. Tablet users are inclined to make bigger, more frequent purchases than smartphone and traditional PC users. Overall, from Q1 2011 to Q1 2012 e-commerce site traffic has increased on tablets by 348%, according to a study from Forrester Research.

In 2013, eMarketer says, 15% of all online retail sales will take place via mobile devices, up from 11% in 2012, and m-commerce retail sales will reach almost $39 billion, 56.5% higher than in 2012. Many of these, around 65% it is thought, will be made through tablet devices, due to the bigger, more convenient screen sizes and more immersive user experience than smartphones deliver.

It looks like tablets will continue to strengthen their hold on the marketplace. By 2017, 25% of online retail sales will be made using mobile devices and the tablet market share here will rise to 71.5%, according to eMarketer. They also predict that 78% of US tablet users will be making purchases via their device, and presumably this figure will only continue to rise as marketing efforts reflect this trend.

App usage

What about mobile apps? Tablets are something of a game-changer as far as they are concerned. With such a huge influx of new tablet owners, a relatively non-competitive tablet-optimized marketplace will soon see apps fighting for users just like in the smartphone app stores.

We’re already seeing clear tablet-specific trends in the way apps are used as well. As many as 11 billion out of the 13.7 billion apps that are predicted to be downloaded in 2016 will belong to just four categories: retail, games, digital publishing and social networking. This will mean marketers of apps that fall within these groups have an especially big opportunity to seize in terms of getting all of these users onboard and retaining them.

Tablets are not only redefining the mobile space, but the entire digital landscape. The device is ripe with opportunities for brands, advertisers and publishers to reach highly engaged consumers. Moving forward, tablets will have a dramatic impact on video viewing, e-commerce and the mobile app market.


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