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The pairing of large tablets with smartphones has important implications for news organizations.

Nearly 9 in 10 large tablet owners also use smartphones according to the latest mobile media survey from the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute (see chart 5.8). Only 4 in 10 smartphone owners said they also used large tablets (see report 3, chart 3.8).

This difference combined with the following findings confirm that tablet owners are relying on smartphones to meet their anywhere, anytime needs for immediate communication and news, and tablets to meet their more relaxed, leisure-time needs for delayed entertainment and information.

About half of large tablet owners say they are now using tablet news apps (see chart 5.2). By comparison, nearly two-thirds of smartphone owners were found to be routinely using smartphone news apps (see report 3, chart 3.2). However, more than half (55 percent) of the tablet news apps used by large tablet owners were branded by newspapers (see chart 5.3). By comparison, about 40 percent of smartphone news apps used by smartphone owners were branded by newspapers (see report 3, chart 3.3).

Nearly 60 percent of large tablet owners vs. nearly 90 percent of smartphone owners said they used these mobile devices frequently in the week prior to participating in the survey (see chart 5.5).

About three-quarters of the large tablet owners used their tablets mostly at home and about half said they were most likely to use them in the evenings (see charts 5.6 to 5.7). About two-thirds of smartphone owners used their smartphones everywhere and throughout the day (see report 3, charts 3.6 and 3.7).

One obvious reason for these differences is that a majority of the tablets currently in use are Wi-Fi only devices, which limits where and when they can be used. Another probable reason is that tablets provide owners with a more relaxed, pleasurable reading and viewing experience than smartphones. This will be explored in my sixth report, which focuses on what owners are doing with their large tablets. Among RJI’s other findings about the use of large media tablets:

  • Men are more likely than women to use tablet news apps (see chart 5.6) even though women are more likely than men to own large tablets (see chart 5.1).
  • Women are more likely than men to prefer swiping pages than continuously scrolling when reading long stories on their large tablets. Well over half of men and women aged 55 or older said they preferred swiping pages (see chart 5.7).
  • Two-thirds of owners surveyed had an Apple iPad; 10 percent had an Amazon Kindle Fire (see chart 5.4).
  • One in 10 said they were likely to purchase a new large tablet in 2014. About half indicated they were likely to purchase an Apple iPad. By comparison, about 3 in 10 said they were likely to purchase a new smartphone in 2014. About half said they were likely to purchase an Apple iPhone (see chart 5.10).

Nearly 1,200 randomly selected U.S. adults participated in RJI’s third annual Mobile Media News Consumption survey between Jan. 1 and March 31. This phone survey focused exclusively on the use of smartphones and touch-screen tablets with mobile operating systems. RJI’s previous surveys included questions about the use of e-readers and other Internet-enabled mobile devices, such as netbooks, tablet PCs, hand-held computers, and ultra-light notebooks.

Coming in report 6: What are large tablet owners doing with their devices and how they are consuming news?

Roger Fidler  
 
Program Director for Digital Publishing (Retired)



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