We’ve already seen how tablet search advertising spend and click share has surpassed smartphone’s in our last state of paid search report , but now another study is placing the tablet firmly on top in the battle with the smartphone.
In February, for the first time, global websites received more traffic from tablets than smartphones  (8% and 7% monthly page views, respectively). Tablets have been on the market for less than 3 years now, so this is impressive news for such a ‘young’ device.
Tablets and Smartphones
Tablets and smartphones technically fall under the same ‘mobile’ category: both devices are internet connected and portable, although their size and characteristics usually differ – anything greater than 7 inches is categorized a tablet and anything smaller than 7 inches is categorized as a smartphone. Although tablets and smartphones are more similar than different, recent evidence shows that the two devices are used under different user spectrums and for diverse purposes.
Tablet vs. Smartphone Traffic
The 2013 Adobe Digital Index  revealed that for the first time tablets drove 1% more traffic to global websites than smartphones (figure 1). The reason behind this trend is that although smartphones are far more common than tablet, and smartphone penetration is much greater than tablets—tablets seem to offer a more convenient browsing experience than its smartphone counterpart. From browsing the web to engaging with a video, tablets are preferred for in-depth Internet browsing, whereas smartphones are used for shorter visits. Tablet browsing mostly occurs in the evening  when users are at home, whereas smartphone browsing generally occurs during the day, reaching its peak volume during the lunch hour.
Figure 1: Global traffic by device type via Adobe Digital Marketing Blog
Shopping or researching?
Apparently, tablets outnumber smartphones for both researching and shopping purposes. According to Experian Marketing Services , 39% of US tablet owners have shopped from their tablets within a given month, compared to only 8% of smartphone owners. Tablets are also preferred for researching purposes, with 38% of users researching products on their tablets and 15% on their smartphones.
As tablets are frequently used for shopping and leisurely Internet browsing, the retail and e-commerce sectors are more favoured by tablet users. Retail and automotive industries receive more traffic from tablet than smartphones, with telecommunications leading the smartphone traffic (figure 2). Furthermore, the Adobe study showed that 13% of users scan barcodes with tablets, more so than with smartphones (8%).
Figure 2: Traffic share by industry via Adobe Digital Marketing Blog
Britons love affair with Tablet
Brits’ love of tablet browsing is highlighted in the same report: compared to 7 other countries, UK users are most likely to browse via tablet, while Australian, Japanese and Chinese users still prefer their smartphones (figure 3).
Figure 3: Traffic share by country via Adobe Digital Marketing Blog
Interestingly, the UK tablet share is higher than in the US. We have to wonder if this trend is due to pricing, marketing, opportunities, availability or a combination of all? The answer is inconclusive at the moment but it seems that the UK is leading the way when it comes to embracing tablets.
So What Does This Mean?
Tablets and smartphones may share similar characteristics and capabilities, but their use encompasses different consumer behaviour. When it comes to serving tablet and smartphone users, retailers can no longer group them both as ‘mobile’, but instead need to follow separate strategies, create distinct customer experiences and deliver value in different ways for each device.
In any case, it looks like tablet retail revolution is happening as we speak!