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It’s official – tablets are mainly used in front of the telly

by Scott Bicheno on 20 May 2011, 15:24

Tags: Nielsen

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The mobile device revolution means never having to be bored, even for one second. Last night I had an extended conversation with the Mrs, while she played Angry Birds on her Android smartphone and I played a game on a tablet I'm reviewing. All this happened while we watched an Adam Sandler film on TV and laughed at all the slapstick fun.

According to the latest figures from Nielsen on US consumer mobile device use, the Bicheno family are fairly typical. Not only has our attention span become so short that we find ad breaks or pauses in conversation intolerable, but even relatively serene moments in our chosen viewing need to be addressed with supplementary stimulation. I'm exaggerating a bit for effect, but not that much.

Seventy percent of those surveyed by Nielsen admitted to using their tablets while watching TV - the most common environment for tablet use. All the other main usage environments were domestic too, with a quarter of people having even used their tablet in the toilet! Only then do you get to outdoor uses, such as shopping or commuting.

E-readers are also used predominantly in the home, but the more passive usage model lends itself to reading in bed I assume. I would also have assumed the toilet would register more highly, as people have been known to read while sat on the throne. Meanwhile smartphones are used pretty much everywhere, with only the toilet and in meetings/classes not featuring strongly.



Nielsen also asked people how much time they spent using their device in these environments, and the domestic bias in tablet use was revealed once more. This tallies with reports that Wi-Fi only tablets are much more popular than 3G ones. The greater mobility of handheld devices was illustrated once more in the smartphone chart.



For all the talk about how tablets have revolutionised the tech industry, it seems there's still no getting past the fact that there's a limit to how mobile any device that's too big to fit in your pocket can be considered. Rather than throw their tablet or e-reader in a bag, it seems, people are still happy to rely on their smartphones when they're on the move and revert to larger devices back at home.


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IF someone would be kind enough to donate one to poor old me, I would be more than willing to test the theory :)