Are Tablets the Fourth Screen?


If 2010 was finally the “Year of Mobile,” there’s little doubt many will proclaim 2011 the ‘Year of the iPad.”
It may seem like it’s been with us forever, but the iPad only launched less than a year ago. Since then, Apple has sold over 15 million. Publishers are rushing out iPad apps, advertisers are getting on board, while Apple competitors are bringing iPad rivals to the market. But much remains unknown about tablets, most notably whether they’re an extension of the desktop computer, the mobile phone or something quite different. Many are opting to look at tablets as a unique category.
It’s the hardware size that separates tablets from mobile, according to Michael Kassan, CEO of MediaLink, “because I can’t fit this in my pocket, no matter how hard I try.”
In the same vein, James Smith, chief revenue officer of Flixster made the distinction that the tablet is not as personal as the mobile phone. “I’m not going to bring my iPad into the bathroom with me like I would a phone,” he said.
Some skip the mobile comparison entirely and view the iPad as an offshoot of laptop and desktop computers. Jamie Wells, director of global trade marketing at Microsoft, said consumers are using tablets much more like their computer than phones. “It’s a WiFi device,” he said. “We’re seeing the same search traffic on home PCs as we are on tablets.”
Despite the excitement, there are things the tablet can’t do, of course. Smith noted, “96 percent of people aren’t going to have a tablet, but they will have a phone.”
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