Giving brands a big screen on which to reach mobile consumers, tablets have officially reached a critical mass in the United States. As comScore reports, one in every four smartphone owners -- i.e., connected, higher-income consumers -- reported using tablets during the three-month average period ending April 2012.
“Tablets are one of the most rapidly adopted consumer technologies in history and are poised to fundamentally disrupt the way people engage with the digital world both on-the-go and perhaps most notably, in the home,” said Mark Donovan, comScore SVP, mobile.
“It’s not surprising to see that once consumers get their hands on their first tablet, they are using them for any number of media habits, including TV viewing," he adds.
The study also found that tablet users were nearly three times more likely to watch video on their devices compared to smartphone users, with one in every 10 tablet users viewing video content almost daily on their device.
Remarkably, in just two years since the launch of the iPad -- the first tablet to reach a meaningful market penetration -- tablet adoption has exploded.
As Donovan notes, the surge has been supported by the introduction of new devices that appeal to various price and feature preferences. In April, 16.5% of mobile phone subscribers reported using a tablet, representing an increase of 11.8 percentage points in the past year.
Growth in market penetration was even more apparent among the smartphone population, with nearly one in four using a tablet device in April -- an increase of 13.9 percentage points in the past year. A lower 10.4% of feature phone owners use a tablet, suggesting that smartphone ownership is highly predictive of tablet adoption in the current market.
A demographic analysis of mobile device audiences indicated that tablet and smartphone audiences closely resemble one another in terms of gender composition, with tablet users just slightly more likely to be female than smartphone users.
However, the age composition of audiences showed that tablet users skewed noticeably older than smartphone users. For both devices, the heaviest overall audience concentration was between the ages of 25 and 44. Compared to smartphone owners, tablet users were 28% more likely to be in the 65-and-older age segment, and 27% less likely to be age 18-24.
Tablet users also skewed toward upper-income households -- likely a function of the high price point of these devices, still considered a luxury good to many consumers. Indeed, nearly three in five tablet users resided in households with incomes of $75,000 or greater, compared to one in every two smartphone users.