A survey of more than 700 tablet owners in US, UK and Australia has revealed some interesting insights into how people use their devices. The $195 Gartner 'Consumers Buy Media Tablets Based on Lower Prices and Better Quality, not Brand' report (gotta love that snappy title, huh?) unsurprisingly shows that tablets are being bought for different reasons than they were two years ago. Unsurprising, to me at least, as I would imagine it's pretty obvious that the market has grown so big during this period and the 'late adopters' for want of a better description are likely to have different expectations than early ones. Heck, when my 75 year old technologically indifferent mother-in-law announces that she wants an iPad, you know the market has changed.

So, for example, in the 2011 survey it was brand that mattered most when it came to purchasing a tablet. What you might have called the 'iPad Effect' back then. Fast forward to 2013 and brand has slipped down to number three, behind design and price. What I like to think of as the 'Android Effect'.

When it comes to what people, or at least those who got asked the questions, are doing with their tablets the answers are interesting but, again, not exactly surprising if you consider what your friends and colleagues do with theirs. I was not at all shocked to learn that 50 per cent of 'device screen time' is spent on entertainment. Check people out on the bus, train or plane (or even in the back of the car or in a hospital waiting room) and they will most likely be reading, playing games or watching TV/video content. If they are not doing that then, the survey says and my experience concurs, they are communicating. Indeed, 26 per cent of screen time is spent either sending emails or on Facebook/Twitter. Actually, I'd have included the social media stuff in entertainment, but maybe that's just my sense of humour showing through.

Productivity is, at last, a category that does shock me a little: just 15 per cent of screen time is devoted to writing or video editing for example, and only a miniscule 9 per cent on information surfing such as web browsing, reading the news or checking the weather.

Meike Escherich, principal research analyst at Gartner, say that most people use their tablets mainly in the evening between 7pm and 10pm. "This suggests the use of tablets as companions to television viewing and other living-room activities" he points out, adding "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." I certainly don't fit the average profile then, as most of my tablet time is spent on social media sites, checking emails, keeping up with the news and web-based research. I spend more time writing on my iPad than I do playing games, and rarely watch TV or video content. As for times, well I'm on the iPad mainly afternoons and evenings, so he's bang on there. As, indeed, he is when it comes to my iPhone which (apart from voice and texts, of course) is mainly used here as a portable weather, Facebook and email checking device when I'm walking around town. If I sit down in a coffee shop, or on a train, then the iPad wins every time.

The survey also showed that iPad owners seem to be the most obsessed with their devices, with 80 per cent being described as heavy users, the biggest percentage across tablet brands. This is likely to change in future years, Gartner predicts, with later adopters choosing basic tablets rather than premium ones. Gartner expects basic tablets to account for around 47 per cent of new tablet shipments by the end of 2013. "Tablet purchases in mature markets increased by 76 per cent in 2012, and their rapid adoption shows no sign of abating" said Ms Escherich, continuing "tablet vendors can no longer focus exclusively on early adopters. From the very beginning of the product design and development process, they must review their portfolios to ensure they have products also capable of attracting later adopters. Late first-time buyers of media tablets have different expectations and buying criteria from early adopters, and this has a significant impact on how media tablets must be marketed."

So, DaniWeb members, what do you use yours for?

About the Author

A freelance technology journalist for 30 years, I have been a Contributing Editor at PC Pro (one of the best selling computer magazines in the UK) for most of them. As well as currently contributing to Forbes.com, The Times and Sunday Times via Raconteur Special Reports, SC Magazine UK, Digital Health, IT Pro and Infosecurity Magazine, I am also something of a prolific author. My last book, Being Virtual: Who You Really are Online, which was published in 2008 as part of the Science Museum TechKnow Series by John Wiley & Sons. I am also the only three times winner (2006, 2008, 2010) of the BT Information Security Journalist of the Year title, and was humbled to be presented with the ‘Enigma Award’ for a ‘lifetime contribution to information security journalism’ in 2011 despite my life being far from over...

I just bought my wife a Kindle Fire so I guess we are in the "late first-time buyers" category. That said, she uses it for reading and watching Netflix. I use it for Netflix and my social media accounts. My kids have used it to watch the Youtubes and oh yeah, we've all used it for the Googles.

As for the reading my wife does, she uses it for ebooks as well as a university course she is taking as the course has a weekly pdf for the class to read and she likes it for that.

All in all, we go to the tablet now for quick information checks before we go to the laptop. Personally, I don't think it can replace the laptop except for its displaying capabilities.

My 3 pennies.

PS, nice article.

Work was throwing away the HP tablets when webos was dropped. I grabbed one from the trash, loaded Cyanogen on it, and use it to read comics online. It really serves no other purpose.

I bought tab2 P3100 8months back and with my tablet hmm.....i used it for exchanging texts,playing games yes farmville(Best game ever), and many things...... well countless!! :D