U.S. Tablet Use Reaching 'Critical Mass' Report Says

Bob Johnson

RESTON, Va. — Tablet use is exploding in the U.S. with 1 in every 4 smartphone owners using the device.

According to a new report from comScore, tablet use over the three-month period ending April 2012, has quickly reached “critical mass.”

The findings also reported that tablet users are three times more likely to watch video on their device compared to smartphone users, with 1 in every 10 viewing video content almost daily — and they’re willing to pay for it.

“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,” Mark Donovan, comScore senior vice president of mobile said.

He added, “It’s not surprising to see that once consumers get their hands on their first tablet, they are using them for any number of media habits including TV viewing.”

The study found that the use of tablets by smart phone users has more than doubled in 2012, from 9.7 percent to 23.6 percent penetration.

In contrast, only 10.4 percent of feature phone owners also use a tablet, "suggesting that smartphone ownership is highly predictive of tablet adoption in the current market," comScore said.

A demographic analysis of tablet and smartphone users showed that females are likely to use tablets just slightly more than males.

And tablet users tend to be noticeably older than smartphone users. For both devices, the heaviest overall audience concentration was between the ages of 25-44. Compared to smartphone owners, tablet users were 28 percent more likely to be in the 65 and older age segment, and 27 percent less likely to be age 18-24.

Tablets also seem to be “luxury” items with most users coming from upper income households.

Nearly 3 in 5 tablet users resided in households with income of $75,000 or more, compared to 1 in every 2 smartphone users.

In terms of video, tablets had an advantage over smartphones because of their larger screens. More than half of tablet users watched video and/or TV content on their devices in April 2012, compared to just 20 percent of the smartphone audience.

Tablets have also contributed to more viewing time, according to the study, that said 18.9 percent of tablet users watch video content at least once a week, and 9.5 percent watch video nearly every day on their device. Of those viewing video at least once during the month, 1 in 4 (26.7 percent) paid to watch content, “highlighting the tremendous monetization potential this platform represents for content providers.”