Top Daily Activities on Smartphones and Tablets

February 27, 2014

ExactTarget-Daily-Activities-Smartphones-Tablets-Feb2014Smartphone owners spend a whopping 3.3 hours per day on their phones, while tablet owners are close behind, averaging 3.1 hours a day on their devices, finds a new survey [download page] from ExactTarget. And while a recent Nielsen study suggests that daily time spent with mobiles is closer to one hour, the researchers indicate that smartphone owners just “can’t seem to put them down.” Here’s some insight into what mobile owners are doing on a day-to-day basis on their devices.

According to the ExactTarget survey, respondents indicate that the top daily activities on smartphones are accessing email (91%) and text messaging (90%), while for tablet owners, searching on the internet (70%) and accessing email (69%) are most prevalent.

(It’s worth noting that the sample size is fairly small – <500 – in relation to the mobile-owning population. Other surveys will no doubt turn up different absolute percentages. That said, the results provide an interesting and useful glimpse into the types of activities, behaviors and attitudes held by these groups.)

For the most part, both groups tend to use their devices in similar ways. Some notable exceptions that appear to skew towards the smartphone camp are text messaging (of course), accessing email, getting news alerts (62% vs. 52%) and getting directions (24% vs. 14%). Tablet owners, for their part, are more likely to be found watching videos or movies (40% vs. 30%) and reading (57% vs. 43%). Those discrepancies suggest that tablet owners view their devices more as entertainment hubs, while smartphone owners are more likely to use them as information sources.

In fact, the survey confirms that mobile owners tend to associate “mobile” with a smartphone or cell phone (54% doing so), compared to only 14% associating the term with tablets and e-readers. That doesn’t seem to owe to survey sample bias; some 73% of smartphone owners surveyed also own a tablet. (Site note: even given consumers’ perceptions, various pieces of research have shown that, as with tablets, most smartphone use occurs in the home.)

The study also tracked ten popular online properties visited, using tracking data to determine whether they were mostly visited on smartphones or tablets, and via an application or on the mobile web. Of note, social media platforms such as Twitter (76%), YouTube (73%) and Facebook (67%) skewed towards tablets, while Pinterest (83%) was almost exclusively visited on smartphones. Not surprisingly given the influence of tablets (read: iPads) as shopping devices, some 69% of visits to Amazon occurred on a tablet.

When sorting by mobile web versus application, Instagram (97% app), Pinterest (95% app) and Facebook (88% app) were among those with the biggest skew towards app usage, while Amazon (66% web) and Twitter (74% web) were the only properties of the 10 listed to skew towards mobile web use.

Other Findings:

  • When rating mobile brand experiences, respondents were more likely to consider “access to content any way I want it” as important (91%) than to share that feeling about a “seamless experience across all my devices” (83%) or the brand being “a technology leader” (68%).
  • Some 64% of respondents subscribe to emails from brands, with 95% of those finding the alerts useful. Respondents most commonly subscribe for the coupons/deals (80%) and most commonly choose not to subscribe because they find them disruptive (43%).
  • More than 8 in 10 of those who have subscribed to emails have made a purchase from a brand’s email, with the top reason being the deal offered (73%). Those who have made purchases most commonly did so online (64%), though many also purchased offline (56%) and on an mobile device (46%).
  • 7 in 10 have opted in to location sharing, and 73% of those find it useful. The most common reason for opting in is because it provides more meaningful content (76%), while those who haven’t say it’s because they prefer not to share their location (73%).
  • Close to two-thirds have opted in to push notifications, and 95% of those find it useful.
  • 6 in 10 have downloaded a business-specific (not utility or gaming) application in the past 6 months – with 65% of those saying it’s a more convenient way to access information.
  • While a relatively smaller 54% have opted in to brands’ text messages (most commonly, again, for the coupons or deals; 77%), 91% find the texts useful.
  • A slight majority – 53% – of respondents say they’ve liked or followed brands on social using a mobile device. The top reason? Drumroll… Because the brands offered coupons or deals to followers (63% citing this reason).
  • Some 43% have scanned a coupon or QR code, and it is no longer necessary to give the top reason why…

About the Data: The data is based on digital tracking of 470 smartphone owners from December 15, 2013 through January 15, 2014. 265 were tracked on a smartphone only and 205 on a smartphone and tablet. The survey was deployed from January 6-14, 2014. It offered one-to-one matching with digital data and measured offline behavior and preference.


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