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Something special is going on with 7-inch tablets like the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire. Not only are they cheaper than full-sized 10-inch tablets at $200, but their smaller size also seems to be encouraging consumers to engage more with websites.

In particular, 7-inch tablets are leading to 20 percent more pageviews for publishers, and e-reader-first tablets like the Kindle Fire are also encouraging consumers to spend more time on websites, according to data provided to VentureBeat by OnSwipe, a company that optimizes sites for tablets and smartphones.

The data is particularly interesting now that we expect Apple to reveal its own small tablet, the iPad Mini, at a press conference next week. Apple’s late founder Steve Jobs dismissed the idea of small tablets years ago — but strong sales of the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7, as well as Apple’s own entry into the small tablet arena, prove that they’re intriguing to consumers.

“The 7 to 8-inch tablet is completely in the zone for content consumption, whether it’s a book or it’s the web; whatever the activity, it’s just more encapsulating,” said OnSwipe chief executive Jason Baptiste in an interview with VentureBeat. “The iPad, meanwhile, could replace the PC on the couch.”

For fully-featured 7-inch tablets like the Nexus 7, OnSwipe found no difference in on-site engagement time. But given what I’ve seen from mainstream small tablet owners, as well as my own habits with the Nexus 7, consumers are more likely to bring them along when they step out of the house versus larger tablets. I’ve also found that smaller tablets are much more comfortable for reading long text pieces, primarily because they’re easy to hold with one hand.

When it comes to small tablets focused on e-reader capabilities first, like Amazon’s Kindle Fire, OnSwipe found that users stayed on sites around 36 percent longer than they did on the iPad, and around 30 percent longer than they did on the Nexus 7. The company attributes that to Kindle Fire owners being used to reading books, magazines, and other text-heavy content on their devices.

While Amazon kicked off the cheap and small tablet craze with last year’s Kindle Fire, it’s going to see much more of a battle this year now that it’s contending with the Nexus 7 and potentially the iPad Mini. But no matter who rises to the top, publishers should expect to see better engagement. And perhaps they should consider spending a bit more time optimizing for smaller tablets.

Photo: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat


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