With tablet sales now taking a bite out of traditional PC sales, it's worth it to ask the question of what exactly consumers are using the devices for. Market research firm Gartner has done just that, and the results shouldn't be too surprising to anyone familiar with mobile device use.
The top use of tablets, according to the survey, is entertainment. Consumers are spending 50% of their time on tablets playing games, watching video, listening to music, or reading books. The "communication" category came second, taking up 26% of consumer time on tablets. This includes social media and email use. "Production activities" (writing or editing video) came in third with 15% and tasks such as news-reading, weather watching, and product research came in fourth, taking up 9% of consumer tablet time.
“Of the different types of activity, people spend by far the most time on entertainment, and people often use several devices at once, so it seems we are turning into a society of multitasking, multiscreen users,” said Meike Escherich, a principal research analyst at Gartner. “Tablet users, for example, continue to use tablets most in the evening, between 7pm and 10pm. This suggests the use of tablets as companions to television viewing and other living-room activities. Smartphones are used more for ad hoc research or quick sessions on social media websites while on the move or engaged in another screen activity.”
Oddly, the survey found that consumers with Apple or Samsung tablets spend more time than others on entertainment. Those tablet owners spent an average of 30 extra minutes viewing entertainment on their tablets each day. This may have something to do with the fact that 80% of Apple tablet owners were found by the survey to be "heavy users" who use their tablets 10 or more times per day.
“Other tablet providers need to understand why owners of their tablets spent significantly less time on their devices,” said Annette Jump, a research director at Gartner. “Unless consumers use tablets regularly and find them valuable for specific activities, they are unlikely to purchase the same brand or, indeed, any replacement tablet after a couple of years.”