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"The Lines Between Smartphones and Tablets Are Blurring"

Alex Spencer

Yesterday, we reported on Orange's Exposure 2012/13 study, which looked at mobile habits in France, Spain and the UK. To find out a little more, we also spoke to Orange Advertising group marketing director Bruce Hoang.

Tablets, smartphones, and the blurring line

With the study finding that tablet penetration has increased from seven per cent in 2011 to 17 per cent, with 'tCommerce' on the rise, the smartphone's bigger brother is clearly a focus of the research. So what's changing?

“We're finding that consumers use different screens and devices interchangeably, more than ever before,” says Hoang. “And given that the lines between the two have blurred – with hybrid devices and mid-sized screens – it's making it even more complex to advertisers to get in touch with consumers. The research is really here to shine a light on this fragmentation, and help make it more simple for advertisers and marketeers to anticipate which devices they should be targeting.

“In fact, we've actually changed the name of our research. Two years ago the study was called 'Mobile Exposure', and we've dropped the 'mobile' to show this isn't about specific devices, it's about multiscreen behaviour.”

The OS wars

As we've seen in a lot of mobile research recently, Exposure showed Android dethroning Apple as king of the mobile platforms. According to Hoang, this trend growth is tightly linked to another brand in the ascendancy – Samsung.

“Samsung is a great brand, with great penetration, especially in Spain, and that's been a key driver in Android's growth,” he says. “But for teenagers, BlackBerry is still top dog, especially in the UK and Spain. One reason is that the devices are very affordable, and they're very solid, durable handsets.

“Really, the handset market is changing every year. In Spain especially, it's really surprising how unstable the market is – it's growing for sure but that growth is so tremendous and driven by pricing that it's hard to predict. Two or three years ago, smartphones were very expensive in Spain, but Samsung and BlackBerry have opened the door and really unleashed the potential of that market.”

Looking forwards

Another trend that emerged in the study was how the increasing popularity of mobile media has seen diminishing – so could television be next for cannibalisation?

“Yes and no,” says Hoang. “People are watching TV on their tablets' nice big screens, so it's not a threat for stations – it could actually be an opportunity to increase their contact with customers, and the number of potential touchpoints. But yes, traditional TV is a little under threat, because if as an advertiser you want a TV spot on a specific show at a specific time, the the strong likelihood is some people – and especially teenagers – are going to watch it elsewhere. The truth is, we are living in a transitional era, where multiscreen will open up new touchpoints.”

And what trends does Hoang expect to be talking about this time next year?

“I foresee the continuation and confirmation of browser dominance over apps,” he says. “When people want to look for something on the go, on the spot, they don't find an app, they go to their browser and search for it – especially with the functionality that HTML5 brings. It's not that apps won't grow, but browsers will grow faster. And secondly I'm very excited to see how usage of BlackBerry, Android and the other OSs develops, among teens in particular. That's something we'll definitely be keeping our eye on.”