Few American tablet owners are coming online through a mobile data connection.
According to comScore, 94 per cent of tablet Internet use comes over a Wi-Fi connection. That seems to support previous studies, which found tablet use largely confined to the home (although it could also happen at the office or a café).
There’s a basic reason for this behaviour. It isn’t necessary to have a data plan with a carrier to make tablets operational nor, given data costs, is it always advisable to purchase one.
Smartphone Internet usage is more evenly split: comScore’s survey found that 58 per cent of time spent online comes through a mobile data connection. with the balance of 42 per cent on Wi-Fi. (Other research has shown that in terms of data volume rather than time spend, U.S. smartphone usage still tilts to the Wi-Fi side.)
In any case, the results reinforce that the two mobile devices, often lazily grouped together, have entirely different usage patterns. Smartphones are the more truly “mobile” device: we carry them everywhere with us. Tablets remain more of a “lean back” device used most frequently in the home, in ways similar to desktop and laptop PCs. Developers and advertisers are well-advised to take note.
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