There have been countless efforts to conclude what a mobile device actually is so let’s start by understanding the definitions of the terms “mobile” and “device”.
Mobile can be defined as “the ability to move or be moved freely and easily” and device as “a thing made or adapted for a particular purpose, especially a piece of mechanical or electronic equipment”. With these definitions in mind, it is fair to say that the smartphone is small enough to be a moved around freely and easily but is this the same for the tablet? Can we class a tablet as a truly mobile device?
A report published by Adobe titled Adobe 2013 Mobile Consumer Survey results, found that even though mobile phones are still the primary mobile device of choice for many, the use of tablets are on the rise because many users are finding they have much richer experiences when interacting and engaging with websites they like especially as tablets offer larger screens.
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Where we use tablets
Most tablets are larger than mobile phones, and whether we are always going to carry a tablet around with the same ease and freedom as we do our mobile phones is debatable. The report published by Adobe also found that 80% of 3,075 mobile device users surveyed said that they used their tablets mainly at home. 14% advised they use their tablets on the go and 6.5% opting to use their tablets at work.
With research supporting the idea of tablet use predominantly at home, does this conclude that the tablet is not truly a mobile device? Of course, we may use them to keep us company or as a means of entertainment or fact and information finding and gathering while on holiday, or while in transit but does this make it truly mobile?
How we use tablets
Also consider the increase of payments through mobile devices. 18% of survey respondents have paid for a product or service with the majority rating their transaction experience easier than providing their credit card details but this was done at home where 26% of respondents said they spent between 1 and 4 hours a day on their tablet. 31% of mobile money users spent more than $500 over a 12 month period with 21% spending over $500 over 12 months using QR codes. The growth of mobile money adoption also highlights the need for unbreakable mobile transaction security which falls within the responsibilities of banks, payment service providers, mobile network operators and payment processors, ensuring that we can transact through such devices without compromising security. All being said, does it make a tablet a truly mobile device?
The tablet as a mobile device predominantly depends on the user and how they choose to use it as part of their day to day lives. Many will find the tablet to be an extension of their mobile device but user interface (UI) design plays a key role because the UI design dictates how easily the device can be used to meet the need of the user at any particular point in time.