Tablets are for old people, women and those who like playing games, apparently

What are tablet computers for?

The answer changes depending on who you ask, of course; for manufacturers, the answer may be “whatever you want,” pointing out the various features that allow for Internet browsing, social media, streaming video content, whatever app you want to enjoy… For users, I suspect, the answer may reflect the particular tablet device that they purchased: Kindle users are more likely to talk about enjoying reading, whereas iPad users may talk about media browsing, and so on. But according to a new study by a mobile analytics company, there’s one thing that towers over everything else when it comes to what people want to do with their tablets… and that’s play some games.

The study, by analysts Flurry, looked at more than 6 billion app sessions on around 500 million mobile devices – both smartphones and tablets – during September 2012, and found that games take up the majority of tablet users’ time: Although gaming is also the most popular activity on smartphones, taking up around 39 percent of usage for the month, it makes up a surprising 67 percent of usage for tablet devices.

“At a high level, consumers spend more time using tablets for media and entertainment, including Games (67%), Entertainment (9%) and News (2%) categories which account for nearly four-fifths of consumption on tablets… Further reinforcing that tablets are ‘media machines’ is the fact that consumers spend 71% more of their time using games on tablets they spend doing so on smartphones.” explained Flurry’s Peter Farago, who went on to point out that smartphones had – understandably – a higher profile when it came to methods of communication.

Additionally, tablet apps are used less often than those for smartphones (9.5 times a week for tablet, versus 12.9 times a week for smartphones), but they are used for twice as long on average, with tablet apps being active for 8.2 minutes against smartphones’ 4.1 minutes. Overall, mobile devices in general build steadily in usage throughout the day until a peak around 9pm, before quickly falling back as the night continues (Tablets have the edge in terms of usage in evenings, while phones have a slight edge during the day).

The difference between tablet usage and smartphone usage? According to Farago, the key might be the different demographics for the two types of devices. “”Tablet users are older, more female, and we can surmise, more affluent,” he summizes, adding that “they use more during the evenings and for longer sessions [and] consume more media and entertainment experiences, with a significant proportion spent on games [than smartphone users].”

As someone who tends to spend far more time on tablet than smartphone (and, yes, in the evenings, too), I find myself oddly disquieted to discover that this makes me older in terms of demographic. But, in my defense, I’m not using it to play games.

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