At around this time last year, I speculated whether the tablet PC would ultimately replace the smartphone. It has yet to happen. Sure, a tablet can do everything a smartphone can, but most people own a smartphone because it is a phone. Calls on a tablet are however possible, yet the tablet has primarily been positioned as a companion device to the smartphone and as an alternative to the laptop. That may not be a bad place to be.
What are consumers doing with their smartphones and tablets?
17% of smartphone owners in the United States also have a tablet. The most important difference between the two devices is where people are using them.
Smartphones stay with people wherever they go. They are used for keeping up with social network sites, email and the news. They also act as GPS navigators, music players, cameras, camcorders and of course, phones. Smartphones enhance many on-the-go activities.
Tablets, on the other hand, are primarily used at home. They are not as portable as smartphones and are considered too large to hold up to one’s ear to make phone calls. The tablet is the preferred device at home though because of its bigger screen size compared to the smartphone and because of its greater portability compared to the laptop. They are well-suited for surfing the web or watching movies while relaxing on the couch.
Is there a shift occurring in the world of mobile devices?
Maybe. One of the latest innovations is the phablet, a new class of devices that has cellular connectivity and voice calling capabilities. With a screen size of 5 inches to 7 inches, the phablet is too big to be a phone and too small to be a tablet. A couple of examples are the Samsung Galaxy Note and the LG Optimus Vu.
As an unproven form factor, there is as much support for them as there is skepticism against them. However, sales figures from the last three months suggest that there is a market of consumers who don’t want to carry around a phone and a tablet but require the functionality of both.
What does this mean for a marketer in 2012 and beyond?
Phablets are not expected to be common-place for at least another year. However, smartphones and tablets are here, so I offer the following suggestions:
- Stay up to date on evolving trends. Differences in the way smartphone, tablet and, now, phablet users surf the web mean that you need to utilize different mobile strategies. For example, don’t forget to include a “Click to Call” option as one of the calls to action for smartphone users because this mobile device can actually make phone calls. As for tablet users, a “Click to Download” option would be more helpful since users have time to study their options.
- Assuming you already have an optimized mobile website for smartphones, you might assume the same site will also be well-suited for tablets. In many circumstances, this might be a mistake. Since the majority of tablet use occurs at home during leisure time, people prefer to use the full website with its full range of features instead of the simplified web version. So, study how your web site looks on a tablet to determine any pain points to eliminate or reduce, such as drop-down menus and small type.
- Relax. It’s not too late to create smartphone optimized and tablet-friendly web sites.
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