Tablets versus Mobiles: Game Over?

Four by four

Far from converging, viewing technologies have continued to multiply within households: at the end of 2015, more than four out of ten British adults were equipped with at least four screen devices in their home. This is up by 6 percentage points, compared to one year ago. 

Penetration of screen device - H2 2015

Penetration of screen devices - H2 2015

Tablets and Smartphones blooming on two different branches

More specifically, ownership of both tablets and smartphones has increased in parallel, with smartphones maintaining the edge despite tablet penetration growing by 20% over the last 12 months. 

There is no evidence of a cannibalisation effect as each of the types of screen increasingly fulfils a specific role. Smartphones are used for on-the-go activities and consumption of short-form media which does not require a large screen. It is the favourite tool for rapid access to the internet, in particular for social media updates or music streaming services, but also to search for information about a product, whether on-the-go or in a store. 

Tablets, in contrast, are predominantly in-home devices, with about two thirds of people hardly ever using them outside of home. And this differentiation is getting more and more marked. Tablets are for instance favoured over smartphones for viewing experiences such as watching or catching up on television programmes or films using an on-demand service. 

Consumers however use both screens interchangeably for activities such as gaming, Skyping or purchasing since these can be done either from the comfort of their home or equally when they are out and about. 

Toward a personalisation of tablets

Importantly while tablets remain a shared device for most people, with  62% of consumers claiming their tablet is used by at least two members of the family, a pattern of greater personal ownership is emerging. Indeed 45% of those equipped with a tablet claim to have more than one. We see that, in particular, more and more families have separate devices for adults and children. 

While these results illustrate the ongoing challenge of measuring audiences across more and more fragmented media devices, they also signify that the strategies pursued by manufacturers have been successful in sustaining growth. These findings also shed a light on the recent success of Android phones which offer larger and larger devices to consumers.  As tablets become confirmed as ‘stay at home’ devices, better screen experience out of home is likely to be increasingly relevant. 



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