updated 02:10 pm EDT, Fri April 8, 2011
AdMob study shows tablet becoming main PC for some
Google's mobile ad firm AdMob in one of its rare post-buyout studies has revealed surprisingly rapid uptake of tablets. About 28 percent of those asked who had a tablet, most likely an iPad, were using it as their main computer. It was also taking over even from pre-PC activities, as 59 percent used it more than a book, 52 percent more than the radio, and 34 percent used it more than they watched TV.
The breakdown also studied usage habits. Despite the reputation as a web-first device, gaming was the most popular habit on tablets at 84 percent. Searches, usually on the web, were next closest at 78 percent of users, and 74 percent used their tablets to handle e-mail. About 46 percent depended on tablets for books.
The majority, 68 percent, spent at least an hour every day with the tablet, but few had an incentive to get a 3G model. A full 82 percent used the device chiefly at home, where only 11 percent had theirs with them elsewhere. Many packed theirs away for the weekend as 69 percent said they used tablets more often on weekdays, and 62 percent used theirs at night after work.
AdMob's results, covering 1,430 Americans March, might not have completely reflected US demographics but ended up at once supporting Apple chief Steve Jobs' talk of "post-PC" devices while also challenging his company's expectations. It pointed to some instances of genuine preference for the tablet but also underscored that many still couldn't necessarily detach from a computer; iOS' current requirement to sync to a computer to start, to backup, or to get firmware upgrades reduces the likelihood that iPad owners can truly detach from a computer.
Android 3.0 isn't as dependent on a computer but doesn't have a way to backup media or to easily sync it locally. Its usage habits are difficult to determine since it may have low sales which are still easily eclipsed by the more phone-like, Android 2.2-based Galaxy Tab.