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New study: Users take tablets on a honeymoon, and into the bathroom

tablet-usage-by-room-high-resOn Monday, researchers from the marketing firm Rosetta released study findings in which nearly 900 tablet owners were asked about their experiences with the mobile devices, and a question that has been haunting each and every tablet user since the devices first went mainstream almost two years ago has finally been answered, namely: How many of us take our tablets into the bathroom?

The answer, surprisingly or not, is quite a few. The study found that almost 25 percent of tablet owners regularly use the devices while… otherwise preoccupied… and a full majority of users — 68 percent — also take the devices to the bedroom with them.

According to Jay Lichtenstein, a Partner in Rosetta’s Consulting Practice, “We expected usage in the living room, kitchen, etc., but didn’t expect such high percentages in the bedroom, bathroom and even outside the home (for example, on the patio). This data about device usage in different locations, combined with our device preference data, reinforced that tablets are not necessarily the primary devices for a lot of things; instead, it is an ad-on device so you can keep accessing info anywhere.”

While bedroom use is perhaps less surprising, given a tablet’s multipurpose role as e-reader and Web browser, the researchers did discover what they referred to as a “honeymoon” period with new tablet ownership. During this time, which can last from one to six months, owners tend to travel with their tablets more often, and use their devices for many varied tasks, exploring the tablets full potential — perhaps at the expense of their significant others. So if you were planning on giving a tablet as a gift to a special someone this Valentine’s Day — don’t say you haven’t been warned.

“Like in any relationship,” says Lichtenstein, “the pressure is on to keep consumers engaged and happy with their tablets beyond that initial infatuation period,” referring to the so-called honeymoon.

The study also found that after this initial excitement eventually wore off, users tended to revert back to more traditional methods of computing, with 47 percent preferring a PC to browse the Web, and 39 percent preferring a computer for online shopping.

Tablets reigned supreme over time for users reading books, magazines, and newspapers, and also to check email, perhaps signaling a trend that tablets are becoming less interactive and more unidirectional, such as books or TV. The popularity of tablet gaming, however, would seem to refute this theory, although even that seems to decrease over time; 34 percent of users reported gaming on their tablets in the first month, as opposed to 29 percent after 12 months, according to the study.

If these findings hold true, there are many implications beyond tech companies simply facing up to the facts and offering antibacterial touch screens: Tablet use, although explosive in the past year in terms of growth, seems to offer almost a novelty effect in terms of the end-user. If reading, something that consumers have been doing in a big way on the Amazon Kindle and other devices since at least 2007, is the primary use of a tablet after the initial 12 months, these devices are clearly not being used to their full potential. Unless tablet makers and independent developers can innovate in terms of new uses for tablets, this study seems to illustrate a point that perhaps the researchers failed to fully comprehend: Maybe tablets aren’t really the life-changing gadgets we in the tech community assume them to be. Take a look at the full infographic here.

Image Credit: Rosetta