Despite smartphone or tablet hype, PCs and email still dominate, says research

Local survey finds that Internet usage on smartphones and tablets is still far off that of PC levels of adoption

While there is a lot of talk about mobile computing, there is a significant difference to the way people actually use tablets, smartphones compared with the way they use PCs.

This is according to StollzNow Research director, Neil Stollznow, who shared the results of his Mobility and the Internet Experience: Australia’s Online Expectations in 2012 survey at a recent Compuware media event in Sydney.

Compuware commissioned the research to see how Australians are using different devices and the experiences people have with them.

“What you have to bear in mind is this is taking place right now, and not in the future,” Stollznow said.

“It is a rapidly evolving space and people are still exploring the whole notion of mobile computing.”

At the same time, he says it is important for organisations to understand what they are delivering with mobile computing.

“Given the introduction of Microsoft Surface and other cross platform devices, you can see technology moving into the space of mobile computing, so it’s really interesting to see how it is used,” he said.

When it came to the frequency of using a device, the survey found PCs are used more frequently than smartphones or tablets, with 94 per cent of online users using their PC daily.

The number dropped significantly when it came to tablets and smartphones, with 58 per cent of people using their tablet daily and 69 per cent using their smartphone daily.

“If you have a tablet and a smartphone, you’re still using it very regularly,” Stollznow said.

“Smartphones and tablets used a little bit less frequently, but not that much.”

The research also discovered that almost everyone in Australia (98 per cent) uses a PC to access the Internet.

The rest access it through another way, with smartphones coming at 47 per cent and 19 per cent using a tablet.

A young person’s game

Stollznow says the age difference is quite substantial.

“You’re more likely to use a smartphone under 34 years of age,” he said,

"It also not about ownership of a smartphone but Internet use."

To illustrate his point, Stollznow said his father has a smartphone but never browses the Internet on it,

“My eyesight is worse than his, so it’s not about usability,” he said.

“My father just doesn’t think of a phone as a way to access the Internet even though he owns one.”

As a result, smartphone usage was found to be much higher for the under 34 age group.

Tablet usage is not very high in the under 25 group and only begins to rise in the over 25 to under 34 age group, lending to an older age profile.

“Maybe that’s the cost of getting into a tablet or people use it as a third device, as a tablet isn’t necessarily a young person’s thing, but a between age person’s thing,” Stollznow said

As for what are people doing online and how are they doing it, the survey found the most common thing to do on any device is checking email.

“Whether it is a PC, tablet or a smartphone, email still rules as the number one thing people do online,” Stollznow said.

He adds it is interesting how people have a tendency to get sidetracked by the latest thing, but forget about the “nuts and bolts” of communication.

“Namely, if you are going to do one thing it’s send an email,” Stollznow said.

As for social media, it is the only task that has similar usage among PC, tablet and smartphone.

“There’s not a lot of difference in the percentage of people who use a smartphone or a PC or a tablet for social media,” Stollznow said.

“So social media is not a mobile exclusive task.”

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