Consumers are quite comfortable with mobile music, according to new data from NPD Group. Forty percent of tablet owners report listening to music on the device while 56% of smartphone owners use the device to listen to music.
Smartphone owners lean toward Internet radio: 65% listen to a service like Pandora, while 30% use on-demand services such as Spotify and Rhapsody. Tablet owners have a similar affinity for Internet radio and 49% transfer their own music files to the device.
But how mobile is a tablet compared to a smartphone? Market research shows most tablet use occurs at home, not out of the home. True on-the-go mobile use is the domain of the smartphone, and the smartphone's small screen is a different experience than the tablet's larger screen. NPD director of industry analysis Ben Arnold notes that NPD doesn't see tablets being used as mobile devices because, "we've seen slow pick up of data plans on tablets."
But Arnold doesn't believe tablets are simply thin PCs. He explained to Billboard that tablets are portable PCs that have a different use case than that of a typical PC. Since this is NPD's first effort to follow consumption habits of tablets, it cannot point to historical data. But in respect to music consumption, NPD found 30% of respondents listen to music during air travel, 19% listen during auto travel, 16% listen at the beach or pool and 13% listen on public transportation. So while the tablet is fundamentally different from a smartphone, these numbers suggest tablets are portable enough for people to listen to music in a variety of out-of-the-home settings in pretty decent numbers.
This portable-tablet-versus-mobile-smartphone exercise isn't academic. Companies need to determine what value consumers place on certain apps in certain situations. A concert-ticket app like Thrillcall, developd by mobile-first -- a company that offers daily deals to music fans in select cities around the country -- probably have more value on a smartphone than on a tablet. Thrillcall is meant to reach people outside of the home and offer them last-minute deals on concerts. Since people take their smartphones everywhere, Thrillcall can reach them everywhere. An Internet radio app or a music discovery app like Shazam or SoundHound may be equally appealing on both a smartphone and a tablet because people listen in both environments.