Even though the first iPad only came out in April 2010, tablets' share of web traffic has already exceeded smartphones, according to Adobe's latest Digital Index. The gains were reportedly driven partly by "couch shopping."
The Index tracked more than 100 billion visits to 1,000+ websites worldwide across eight countries. Tablets accounted for eight percent of views versus seven percent for smartphones. All countries saw their share of traffic from tablets double over the course of last year. Desktops/laptops still dominated with 84 percent of the page views.
Adobe concluded that tablets drive more traffic because Internet users prefer them for more in-depth visits. Retail websites received the highest share of tablet traffic across all industries, followed by auto and travel sites.
Writing on Adobe's blog, Tyler White, manager and primary analyst working on Adobe Digital Index, said it's essential to create optimized sites for the growing crop of new tablet users. Wrote Mr. White, "They aren't just watching a video clip; they're exploring and engaging with content. They'll be disappointed if they're not able to take advantage of the smooth touch interface and awesome screen resolution of their new toy."
Still, while tablet use is increasing rapidly, flexibility will also be required with tablets getting smaller and smartphones getting bigger. The latest tablets also now have the ability to make phone calls.
"Marketers can't rely on screen size any more to determine and deliver the most appropriate experience," wrote Mr. White. "They'll need to pay attention to connection type (Wi-Fi vs. cellular), and referral source along with form factor to prioritize which options to offer the user," wrote Mr. White. "Think about it. Why do you choose to use your tablet instead of your phone if you have both? What different expectations do you have? Now apply that to your customer's experience."
The findings come as a round of other studies examining usage have found tablets lead to higher click-through rates than PCs when it comes to search advertising, higher conversion, are significantly used more for viewing videos than smartphones, and have already become the preferred device for airplane travelers.
Will the optimal mobile shopping device of the future more closely resemble the tablet or the smartphone?