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Are Tablets Truly Mobile Devices?

No, I am not trying to make a Thorsten Heins-like splash (the BlackBerry CEO who recently stated that “In five years I don’t think there’ll be a reason to have a tablet anymore.”).
If you pose the above question in one of those Jay Lenoesque “Jaywalking – Man on the Street” episodes, the response would undoubtedly be “of course”. Since their debut, both con­sumers and busi­nesses have gen­er­ally con­sid­ered tablets to be a form of mobile devices.  The interfaces for both the iPad and its Android brethren cer­tainly look and feel more like their smaller smartphone siblings than a Windows 7/8 desk­top.  But does that really make sense considering how tablets actu­ally used?
While growing nearly 50% in Q1 of 2013, cellular-enabled tablets still only account for 12% of the tablets sold. So, what’s my point? Tablets are not primarily mobile devices and should not be treated as such.  When creating a mobile app, quite often, tablets are looked at as an oversized smartphone.  Instead, they are truly their own platform and designers/developers must create a differentiated tablet experience or risk dissatisfying the very consumers (either customers or internal business people) they are targeting and thus, missing an opportunity.  As an example, for a given business app, the smartphone version can be seen a summary/quick perusal of a certain set of business information while the tablet should be used to discover and the plumb the depths of whatever the business person is investigating through the tablet.

Thoughts on “Are Tablets Truly Mobile Devices?”

  1. IOW, when developing for a “phone”, one can assume connectivity. With a tablet, that cannot be assumed, and must degrade gracefully. Right?

  2. Perry Hoekstra

    Yes, and no. Quite often with a smartphone you can enter zones where the connectivity is poor and the cell network connection will drop. Your mobile application has the take into account the possibility of intermittent connection loss.

  3. I guess I should have said apps for phones assume they are *usually* connected. I wasn’t stating that as an absolute of course.

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Perry Hoekstra

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