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Executive Report - By Thomas Baekdal - November 2013

Tablets and Smartphones: Forget About Age and Time

Over the past couple of years we have had an endless amount of studies trying to understand how people use tablets and smartphones. Usually these studies are looking at either age or other demographics, like the PEW's Tablet Ownership Study and the Smartphone Ownership Study.

Other studies look at when during the day people use a specific device, like this one from the Financial Times.

Studies like these are very interesting, but neglect to consider why people behave in a certain way. And more to the point, they create an average that kind of gives you the wrong idea of what you need to focus on, especially when a study is looking at behavior across media sites.

A better way to determine what you should focus on, and indeed what challenges you might be facing is to consider the use of each device. And as we used to say back when I was working in the fashion industry: It's not how old you are, it's how old you feel.

There are young people who behave more like senior citizens, and senior citizens who behave more like youngsters. True, on average, younger people are more connected than the older ones, but there are amazing variations within those groups.

So instead of looking at people (their age, demographics, etc.), look at their behavior. Some people are very connected, while others have physically arranged their lives (often out of habit) in a way that makes it almost impossible to convert them to digital.

So let's look at these on a scale from not connected to connected.

The computer-in-the-study persona

Not everyone is like you and me, where the first thing we reach for is our tablets. Many people, especially older ones, embrace digital like this:

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Baekdal is a magazine for media professionals, focusing on media analysis, trends, patterns, strategy, journalistic focus, and newsroom optimization. Since 2010, it has helped publishers in more than 40 countries, including big and small publishers like Condé Nast, Bonnier, Schibsted, NRC, and others, as well as companies like Google and Microsoft.

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Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé


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