A recent Adobe survey sees tablet Internet use overtaking smartphones by next year, with tablet-originated data usage running some ten times faster than that of phones. Will the tablet become the dominant form of web access, and what will the upcoming Olympics do to shake up viewing habits?
The Sprint to Digital
In a splurge of statistics, an Adobe Systems Digital Index report, discussed at the company's European summit, suggests tablets will be responsible for 10% of all Internet traffic by 2014, overtaking smartphones by next year. Of existing tablets, the iPad generates almost 500% as many Web site visits as Android tablets, which will leave branding and marketing types trying to grab the attentions of tablet users with increasing urgency.
These stats from Adobe really shouldn't come as much of a shock. For starters, you can point out that most tablets are used more at home on a Wi-Fi connection. Therefore they are more likely to be the device of choice for Internet access over smartphones, especially now more and more users have both devices.
Also, that dinky smartphone screen, even with larger models like the Galaxy S III, spotty 4G experiences, and the poor mobile site experience (in many cases) are pushing ever larger numbers of users to tablets for that always-on Internet experience. Perhaps fast-booting ultrabooks might tweak the numbers, but for casual data consumers, the future looks tablet-shaped. All we need is one big event to push users into becoming reliant on their tablets for information.
The Next Big Thing?
It will take just one major event to truly push users to try, and then accept, new digital experiences on their tablets. The next big thing on the calendar is the London 2012 Olympics, with blanket coverage of endless sports, a massive social media experience and huge branding opportunities all rolled into one event.
The host broadcaster, BBC has just announced its U.K. "Digital Olympics" offering with a major digital HD line-up including multiple on-demand streams, new apps for tablets and smartphones. Regional and national broadcasters (NBC Sports in the U.S. which has a barrage of programming, plus tablet and mobile apps for the event) will be pushing similar offerings to get viewers watching on multiple screens, joining in the social buzz and cheering home athletes from under a pile of devices.
While athletes are under all kinds of rules preventing them from tweeting about non-Olympic brands and products, even ticket holders at events will be discouraged by the stipulation on tickets that: “Images, video and sound recordings of the Games taken by a Ticket Holder cannot be used for any purpose other than for private and domestic purposes... including on social networking websites and the Internet more generally.”
Be A Sport
Organizers have admitted that it will be impossible to police, but are largely trying to prevent guerrilla marketing, rather than tourists uploading photos from events. That aside, this huge spectacle will likely see vast numbers of home viewers watching multiple streams on smart TVs, tweeting and Facebooking on their tablets, perhaps while playing Olympic-themed games on their phones.
From cheering on athletes to basketball and soccer teams, swimmers and archers, even those oddballs who do the 10K "walk." This Olympics will usher in a new generation of typical consumers who are leaping into the digital media experience for the first time and will be the target of vast marketing budgets to try and sell them stuff, loyalty or experiences.
Let us know if you've seen any impressive, novel or quirky efforts at early Olympic marketing, or tell us how you plan to manage your own Olympic "experience." The whole thing kicks off on July 27 with 182 countries competing.