Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Screen Size Matters, But Mobiles are About Content Consumption

Mobile device screen size should make a difference in user behavior, one reasonably would expect, with lead applications varying with size of screen and input method. "Specifically, larger screen devices seem to fulfill productive needs while smaller screen devices tend to satisfy communication or entertainment needs," say researchers at In-Stat.

That should make sense. But the reported behavior might not always match actual behavior, particularly for tablets. PCs of all types remain a virtual requirement for content creation, while a variety of appliances can be used for content consumption.

Tablets and smaller-screen devices arguably represent a different lead experience, even though PCs, tablets and smart phones all are multi-purpose devices. That is to say, PCs (desktops and notebooks) can be used to consume or create content, but are virtually a requirement for creating content more complex than email or text messages.

Smart phones arguably still are balanced "communication" and "content consumption" devices. And though in surveys people tend to suggest they "work" on tablets, much of that "work" is one form or another of content consumption.

“The majority of tablet owners have a screen size between 9 and 11 inches, a size optimized for sophisticated uses that require a lot of interaction,” says Stephanie Ethier, In-Stat senior analyst. “The top uses for tablets are web browsing, email, and downloading and using applications, which are productivity-based uses. "

Portable media players, which can be virtually identical to tablets except for the smaller-than-5-inch screen, are used primarily to support entertainment-focused uses, like listening to music and watching video,” she says.

My own non-scientific observation is that tablets get used more often for "entertainment" than for work, though the "productivity" argument is used to justify buying them.

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