Smartphones are yesterday’s must-have gadget. Today’s always-connected consumers want tablets, a trend made clear by new data that shows nearly one in every four smartphones owners have upscaled to the bigger touchscreen devices.
Just under 24 percent of smartphone owners in the U.S. used tablets during a three-month period ending in April, according to analytics firm comScore’s latest data. The figure jumped nearly 14 percentage points from the same time last year, and is especially impressive considering that comScore didn’t count single purpose e-readers as tablets.
“Tablets are one of the most rapidly adopted consumer technologies in history and are poised to fundamentally disrupt the way people engage with the digital world both on-the-go and perhaps most notably, in the home,” comScore senior vice president of mobile Mark Donovan said.
The data, which points to tablets hitting critical mass, should come as no surprise. Research firm Gartner predicted earlier in the year that tablet sales would balloon to 118.9 million units this year, 182.4 million units in 2013, and 369.2 million units in 2016.
The data also suggests that tablet adoption is correlated to smartphone ownership. Just 10.4 percent of feature phone owners reported tablet usage during the three-month period. Tablet users are also, no surprise here, likely to live in higher income households. Three in five tablet users live in households with income of $75,000 or more, comScore found.
What’s especially interesting to look at, however, is the media and content consumption behaviors of tablet users. ComScore found that tablet users are much more likely to watch video, and do so on a perpetual basis, than smarpthone users. More than 50 percent of U.S. tablet owners watched video or television content in April. Compare that to just 20 percent of smartphone subscribers. Plus, nearly 19 percent of tablet owners watched video at least once each week. Better still, for media organizations at least, is that 26.7 percent of tablet users who watched video at least once in a month paid to watch content.
The obvious takeaway here seems to be that those with disposable income who are already sold on the idea of 24-7 digital access need little convincing to upgrade to a larger screen. And, when they do they do go big, they’re willing to pay big for a premium experience. That’s good news for tablet makers and content creators alike.
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