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Should Tablets be Classified Mobile?

12/9/14
 
By Ken Magill
 
IBM’s claim last week that traffic from mobile devices outpaced traffic from PCs on Thanksgiving drew some debate concerning whether or not tablets should be lumped in with smartphones.
 
If tablets aren’t lumped in with smartphones, then mobile traffic did not outpace desktop-driven traffic on Thanksgiving, as IBM reported. 
 
Why does this matter? As Richard H. Levey pointed out, classifying devices can help determine buying habits.
 
Email marketing agency Alchemy Worx CEO, Dela Quist, commented:
 
As far as I can see, tablet surfing and purchasing is closer to laptop/desktop behavior than mobile and should be reported under that category. 
 
I think IBM's own data proves this as you can see from this quote: "Smartphones drove 34.7 percent of all Black Friday online traffic, more than double that of tablets, which accounted for 14.6 percent of all traffic. Yet, tablets accounted for 16 percent of online sales compared to 11.8 percent for smartphones, a difference of 35.5 percent. Tablet users also averaged $126.50 per order compared to $107.55 for smartphone users, a difference of 17.6 percent."
 
So if you took tablet away from mobile and gave it to laptop/desktop...
 
Writer and colleague Richard H. Levey commented:
 
Dela Quist raises an interesting point regarding how tablets users should be classified. I suspect most marketers are interested in classifying device owners to better determine their buying habits. If that's the case, lumping 'em in with laptop/desktop users offers a fuzzy picture as well.
 
There are several reasons why. The first is that tablet penetration hasn't yet equaled smartphone use rates. Tablets are the third interactive screen, after laptop/desktops and smartphones. As of early this year, smartphone penetration stood at 74 percent, compared with tablet ownership rates of 55 percent, according to eMarketer.
 
What this indicates is that tablets are more of an optional purchase, one most likely made by more-affluent consumers. It makes sense, therefore, that tablet-owning consumers would have more to spend.
 
Additionally, consumers appear to be approaching promotions made via tablets and smartphones differently. In mid-November, eMarketer released figures stating that 53 percent of tablet users were likely to use a digital coupon when making a purchase via their tablets, compared with 40 percent of consumers making purchases via their smartphones.
 
Since coupons are designed to stimulate sales -- especially incremental sales -- this fact provides possibilities into why tablet sales values are higher than smartphones.
 
There is another possibility, of course: Smartphones are often used for low-price purchases such as coffee. Tablets may not be used for these types of purchases as frequently, and I have yet to see anyone try to pay for a venti latte with a desktop machine.
 
If these low-cost purchases weren't factored out of the results, smartphone average purchase values would be lower.
 
Anyone want to take a guess as to where the truth lies?
 
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