How are tablets used?

Luke Wroblewski reported on his website that most tablets are used in the home, rather than in a truly mobile context. In the same article he links to a Google blog post that says the majority of the time, 91%, “people spend on their tablet devices is for personal rather than work-related activities”

This chimes with my experience of tablet devices, on the 20th June I commented on this via twitter:

20 Jun Matt Goddard ‏@godd4rd
Every morning, on the train I take a mental snapshot of all the devices people use in my carriage.

20 Jun Matt Goddard ‏@godd4rd
Obviously the ubiquitous iPhone, iPad (although I hardly ever see anyone “working” on an iPad).

20 Jun Matt Goddard ‏@godd4rd
Lots of Android phones and a few tablets but again hardly anyone “working” on them.
However, I do see loads of people working on their laptops (mainly PC)…

Leading me to say,

“That’s why I’m so excited about the Surface tablet.”

Considering Wroblewski’s article and my own observations, I have the following thoughts:

  1. Currently, tablets (most predominantly iPad, but Android too) are marketed as leisure companions, so it’s not surprising that most people use them in leisure activities.
  2. The tablets currently available don’t integrate very well with most standard work tasks. They are brilliant at reviewing tasks, but when it comes to creating documents, diagrams, and interfacing with an internal bespoke system they are severely lacking. Some reasons for this are:
    1. Platform issues, iOS (OS X) and Android are not the predominant platform for the enterprise, making it expensive to integrate tablet apps into a complete workflow.
    2. Application issues: MS Office, is the predominant business tool. For any tablet to integrate itself into someone’s workflow, It should, at the very least, read and write properly to office format without any font, or display corruption. Something which neither Pages or Google Docs did the last time I used them.
    3. Tablets are designed in the most part to accept touch input, which makes some task more difficult to achieve, especially when fine manipulation skills are needed (such as creating diagrams in omnigraffle, or visio).

On the whole, I expect the migration from laptop to tablets as the primary “mobile” computing device. Employees want good, well-designed tools (a triumph for the Apple way), but they also need to get their work done.

Tablet manufacturers and application designers must now shift their gaze to the enterprise. They must understand their employee task flows, and how they currently use (or are likely to use) multi-devices to get things done.

The tablet market place is maturing, but it will only make it successfully out of adolescence once it realises that you only finally grow up, when you go out to work and earn your living.

2 thoughts on “How are tablets used?

  1. Gotta say I’m taking the surface pretty seriously too. But the sticking point for me is currently the price point. Although speculation right now – it does sound realistic to expect them to charge around the ultra book price range.And ~£800 isn’t competitive in my mind, even if they do boast the developer base.


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