Generations X, Y Adopt Smartphones as Media Hubs; Tablets Dominate on Long Viewing Sessions

New GfK report shows How People Use® these transformative devices in daily life.

New York, NY (July 31, 2012) – Despite small screen sizes and keyboards, smartphones are the dominant mobile devices of today, particularly among Generations X and Y.  Consumers are more likely to use smartphones than tablets for most "mobile”activities measured in a recent GfK study; but tablets do win out when it comes to viewing full TV episodes and other activities where longer time frames and larger screen sizes can be decisive factors.

How People Use® Media: Smartphones and Tablet shows that consumers are more likely to use smartphones for 11 out of 15 common uses, including searching the Internet, listening to music, and filming video. Users preferred tablets for game playing, watching TV programs, and reading books or magazines.

"The amount of time that people spend using smartphones is creating a sense of comfort that seems to trump concerns about screen size,” said David Tice, Senior Vice President of GfK Media. "As smartphones become larger and more viewing oriented, they may erode the tablet’s advantages for even long viewing sessions. The fact that Generations X and Y have an almost native ease with smartphones will only accentuate this trend.”

Comfort with using the smartphone as a media device varied greatly among key age groups. Among smartphone viewers in Generation X (ages 33 to 46), 44% reported that they watch both clips and full episodes of TV shows on smartphones, compared to 24% for Generation Y (ages 13 to 32) and 17% for Baby Boomers (ages 47 to 54).

In addition, 22% of Generation Y smartphone viewers report that their smartphone viewing is replacing time with regular TV, compared to 14% for Generation X and Baby Boomers.

The new report also shows that, across eight program genres, 65% to 86% of smartphone viewers said that the small-screen experience is either "as good as regular TV” or "good enough.”  Generation Y was most likely to report this agnostic view of screen size. 

Based on interviews with 1,001 smartphone and/or tablet owners ages 13 to 54, How People Use® Media: Smartphones and Tablets also covers such topics as

  • attitudes toward mobile advertising versus for-pay content
  • preferred mobile device for a variety of activities
  • device use during primetime TV
  • use of TV-related apps
  • attitudes toward free versus for-pay apps


For more information on the new report, contact Tice at or (908) 497-8075.


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