18th September 2012
Gulf emerges as multi-tasking digital device owners leave majority of UK consumers trailing
The number of people in the UK using tablets has almost quadrupled this year, driving rapid changes in consumer behaviour and the emergence of a new demographic of highly-skilled digital multi-taskers, according to new research from Intersperience.
Tablet usage has jumped from just 6% in 2011 to 23% in the UK, growing at a faster pace than any other popular digital consumer device, according to the Digital Selves study. The research also showed significant rises in e-reader and smartphone usage, although at a slower pace.
Since the launch of the first iPad in 2010, tablets have become increasingly popular, especially among technology innovators, under-45s and families with children who like to use them for games and other entertainment as well as for general information purposes.
The rapid growth in adoption defies sceptics who doubted whether there was a major market when the first tablets were introduced. However, it fits with the prediction made by Intersperience at the time of the iPad launch, that family consumers would hold the key to mass adoption: Family consumers hold the key to iPad success
Intersperience has studied how tablets are being used at home and concludes that an explosion in daily usage for a range of tasks has had a marked effect on consumer behaviour.
The most notable change is the ease and speed with which consumers who own tablets have become proficient multi-taskers, simultaneously using tablets in conjunction with PCs, laptops, smartphones and other devices. This was apparent in our recent study of how home audiences used digital devices to follow events during Olympics 2012 - we found that one in two Brits shared the experiences across one or more devices, with tablets featuring prominently.
The increasing level of sophisticated consumer interaction with technology is one key finding, another is the accelerated pace of change in consumer behaviour. The rapid adoption of smartphones (UK ownership is now 39%) ratcheted the pace up a notch several years ago and now, signs of a potentially even more rapid growth in tablet adoption imply that the pace of change will quicken again.
As Intersperience said at Open Ideas (2020 Vision), we expect to see even more change in the coming decade than in the last 10 years and it will take place at what will seem like breakneck speeds.
A major implication is that it will result in greater digital divides in society as the technology skills gap among consumers widens. The top end of the spectrum will comprise digitally connected multi-device using households, followed by families who either own or use fewer digital devices and are less adept in multi-tasking.
However trailing in the wake of both groups will be the 2 in 10 UK households who, (according to the latest Ofcom report) remain completely ‘digitally excluded’ with no internet connection at all.
The implications for businesses and organisations seeking to serve all demographics are potentially far-reaching: not least the fact that a one-size-fits-all approach to communication channels as well as to product and service design and delivery is no longer appropriate.