The following is an excerpt from my work-in-progress Master’s Thesis about mobile marketing adaptation by Finnish businesses. I decided to share this to stir up some conversation, and perhaps even to get tips on more sources supporting my claim. In this paragraph I’ve gathered some reasons why I think tablets are not mobile devices:

Mobile commerce (m-commerce) – and mobile marketing as its sub-category – is traditionally associated with mobile phones (both feature- and smartphones). Thorough this thesis, the term “mobile devices” is used to describe these end-user devices, which act as a mobile marketing channel. Although tablet PCs are sometimes referred as mobile devices too, they are not part of the scope of this thesis for several different reasons. First of all, tablets are not really that mobile: they are used primarily stationary and 82 % of all tablet usage is happens at home (the opposite of how mobile phones are used), and many tablet users have also stated that tablets are replacing the time spent with laptops rather than mobile phones (Müller, Gove, & Webb, 2012). This phenomenon is evidently related to the fact, that majority of tablets rely on Wi-Fi connectivity instead of cellular, and that use scenarios between tablets and smartphones will continue to diverge (Husson & Ask, 2014). Also advertisers’ spending on tablets has become at the expense of computers instead of smartphones (The Search Agency, 2013), and for example Google found out when categorizing their advertisement services that tablets’ “usage had much more in common with desktops than with handsets” (Thuener, 2013). Other researchers have also come to the similar conclusions, e.g. Karjaluoto (2010) defined the term “mobile device” as a device which travels with its user, can be fitted inside a pocket, and is utilizing mobile media. Kaplan (2012) also points out that “for mobile marketing to make sense, this mobile device has to be personal; that is, not shared with anyone else. This requires that each household member has their own device and that each device can be identified uniquely, as through a built-in SIM card.” Although tablets are used personally too, they are also often bought e.g. for the whole family to use, whereas mobile phones are considered the most ubiquitous personal items in the world (Jayawardhena, Kuckertz, Karjaluoto, & Kautonen, 2009).

So what do you think? Tablets certainly can be mobile also, but their use scenarios are fundamentally different from mobile phones. The odd form factor is here to stay, no doubt on that, and marketers face a very real challenge on how to reach out on that platform – just don’t expect the same tricks to work that you use on mobile phones.

References:

  • Husson, T., & Ask, J. A. (2014). Predictions 2014: Mobile Trends For Marketers. Cambridge: Forrester Research, Inc.
  • Jayawardhena, C., Kuckertz, A., Karjaluoto, H., & Kautonen, T. (2009). Antecedents to permission based mobile marketing; an initial examination. European Journal of Marketing, 43, 473-499.
  • Kaplan, A. M. (2012). If you love something, let it go mobile: Mobile marketing and mobile social media 4×4. Business Horizons, 55(2), 129-139.
  • Karjaluoto, H. (2010). Digitaalinen markkinointiviestintä (1 ed.). Jyväskylä: WSOYpro Oy.
  • Müller, H., Gove, J., & Webb, J. (2012). Understanding tablet use: a multi-method exploration. Proceedings of the 14th international conference on Human-computer interaction with mobile devices and services (pp. 1-10). New York: ACM.
  • The Search Agency. (2013). State of Paid Search Report: Q2 2013. Los Angeles, USA.
  • Thuener, A. (Ed.). (2013, December 20). United States Securities and Exchange Commission. Retrieved January 13, 2015, from http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1288776/000128877613000074/filename1.htm
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