Adobe: Tablets, not smartphones, will drive mobile spending and consumption.

Tablets will overtake smartphones as the preferred mobile platform for consumers with money to burn, according to Adobe’s latest research. In fact, it has already started — tablet users spend more money per purchase than smartphone users.

The research, called “Adobe 2013 Mobile Consumer Study,” found that for users who have both a smartphone and a tablet, the smartphone retains their strong preference. But even now the numbers are shifting aggressively, with tablet preference growing from 12 per cent to 23 per cent in just one year.


(Image: Time spent on tablets. Source: Adobe)

The last 12 months have seen a significant shift in how mobile users access web sites, says Adobe, with tablets (eight per cent) now accounting for more share of page views than smartphones (seven per cent).

Given that tablet visitors spend more per online purchase with US retailers than visitors using smartphones, tablet traffic is proving to be more valuable in terms of e-commerce and engagement and represents significant implications for the development and optimization of mobile strategies.” according to the research.

Earlier research by Adobe had already identified that mobile users view 70 per cent more pages per visit on a tablet than on a smartphone, leading the company to recommend to its clients that they design for the tablet experience and take advantage of responsive design to optimise experiences across devices. “These are key tactics for businesses that want to maximize engagement and increase consumer satisfaction.

And as for our old friend the desktop? It still captures more web site visits, but not for much longer. The study notes, “As the tablet market matures, the advantages of desktop and laptop browsing will erode, causing consumers to use tablets to visit web sites more frequently.

Email, games and news dominate tablet consumption habits, according to the research, which also confirms Mark Zuckerberg’s famous entreaty that the iPad is not a mobile device — 80 per cent of tablet activity happens in the home.


Web vs App

Which-50 has always held fast to the idea that native apps are an interstitial technology and that responsive web sites will win in the end. Our more nuanced view is that the two will become indistinguishable eventually. Consumers seem to be reaching the same conclusions, although there are some specific utilities which lend themselves one way or the other.

The research found that on average people rate the web and app experience equally. “When asked which method they would prefer to use for shopping, most consumers preferred web sites to apps. Fifty-eight percent reported preferring mobile-optimised or regular web sites, while 42 per cent preferred applications, indicating that consumers might not be willing to download, install, and continually upgrade applications. In turn, businesses should provide both engaging mobile web experiences and mobile apps to address their total audience.

The study offers some interesting insights in specific verticals. For instance:

Media — It just gets worse for you guys. All those news organisations hoping mobility would usher in a brave new world of subscription-based revenue to replace the advertising they forfeited through the debasement of their yields, think again. “People don’t like paying for access to content on their mobile devices, based on the 70 per cent who reported never paying to access content. Only 22 per cent said they paid for access to games, eight per cent for news, and seven per cent for video.

Travel — The customer is not happy. Only media has worse negative to neutral ratings for mobile sites and apps. In this segment, the desktop/laptop incumbents still rule. “Desktop and laptop rates are 30 per cent to 60 per cent higher than tablet conversion rates for retail and travel websites, mirroring consumers’ responses that they still prefer desktops or laptops for visits involving research, comparing alternatives, and online purchasing.

Financial services — security still matters. By 2017 there are expected to be 108 million mobile banking users in the US alone. “The top three experiences that respondents would like financial services companies to improve are ease of use, security, and speed. As with last year, the category of financial services was the only vertical in which security was highlighted as an area for improvement for both mobile web sites and applications.

Shopping — Mobile consumers love you guys! Six out of seven shoppers will use a mobile to shop in 2013. And here’s a very telling statistic: “Tablets now account for 62.5 per cent of mobile sales, and eMarketer estimates the share for tablets will rise to 71.5 per cent by 2017.

Social Media — It’s Facebook, Facebook, Facebook. Other than that, check back in 12 months.

Adobe provides five recommendations in its conclusion:

  • Integrate analytics from day one. Review your mobile sites and apps to ensure that analytics are in place to measure success effectively. Direct measurement of visitor behaviour is important to understanding the effectiveness and ROI of mobile channels.
  • Prioritise tablets. As reported in the Adobe Digital Marketing Index, tablets provide engagement levels nearly equivalent to desktop and laptop computers. Consequently, marketers need to plan and prioritise optimisation efforts for tablet experiences that are unique. In particular they must be different from smartphone experiences, given the larger screen size.
  • Launch mobile channels with an optimisation strategy in place. Instead of guessing whether experience A or B is preferred by consumers, plan for ongoing A/B and multivariate testing of mobile web sites and apps. In addition, consider personalisation capabilities that leverage information about the mobile device type, operating system, and location.
  • Ensure that your social mobile presence is optimised for mobile. Review your own social media channels to ensure that consumers can click through to offers and that tweets are optimised for smartphones and tablets.
  • Link mobile advertising campaigns to mobile web sites. When planning your mobile search and display campaigns, ensure that landing pages are mobile-optimised and do not click through to the desktop home page.

Global market share held by tablet vendors Q2 2011-Q2 2013

You will find more statistics at Statista.

Best Practice

Companies need to reduce the number of touch events to conversion, design for mobile interactions, optimise for speed, and improve the findability of content, according to Adobe. “The more positively consumers feel toward their mobile experience, the more ability brands have to build customer loyalty and improve conversion rates.

Adobe concludes, “And with over 40 per cent of respondents reporting a negative to neutral rating for mobile web site and app experiences in several areas across the categories of media consumption, travel services, financial services, and shopping, there is significant room for improvement.

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