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Tablets and smartphones used for different purposes: study

Posting in Technology

Smartphones and tablets may run the same operating systems and apps, but that's where the similarities end. Not only do they differ in size, but users also employ them for different purposes. Tablets are "media machines," used for games and entertainment. Smartphones are more commonly used for communication and task-oriented activities.

That's the latest finding from Flurry Analytics, which took a snapshot of more than six billion application sessions across approximately 500 million smart devices, used among more than 30 million consumers who have opted-in to share demographic data.

At a high level, Flurry's Peter Farago reports, 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 than they spend doing so on smartphones.

Smartphones claim a higher proportion of communication and task-oriented activities with social networking (24%), utilities (17%), health & fitness (3%) and lifestyle (3%) commanding nearly half of all usage on smartphones.

Demographically, smartphone users tend to be slightly younger than tablet users (30 versus 34 years old). Men and women are equally likely to be tablet users, but men have a higher rate of smartphone adoption, Flurry Analytics reports.

In addition, the study finds consumers use apps on smartphones more frequently but for shorter periods of time than on tablets. "With consumers using tablets more for media consumption, and during the evenings, this stands to reason," says Farago. "Conversely, consumers use their smartphones for shorter periods of time across more sessions over the course of a day to complete tasks like checking into social networks and using utility apps."

— By on October 29, 2012, 12:44 PM PST

Joe McKendrick

Contributing Editor

Joe McKendrick is an independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. He is a co-author of the SOA Manifesto and has written for Forbes, ZDNet and Database Trends & Applications. He holds a degree from Temple University. He is based in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure