AH Tech Talk: College Students Clinging to Smartphones Rather Than Buying Tablets



According to Michael Hanley, an advertising professor and director of Ball State's Institute for Mobile Media Research, students are reluctant to embrace tablets like many experts had predicted would happen.  In fact, his studies show there has actually been a slight decline in tablet ownership over the past couple of years – in early 2014, only 29-percent of the students report that they own a tablet.  The most popular tablet is the iPad at 14.2-percent owning the device, next is Samsung at only 1.1-percent, while 13.6 percent own other brands – however, 8.2-percent claim they plan on buying one over the next year.


Hanley claims that tablets are viewed more as an entertainment device rather than a productivity tool, such as a PC or notebook. Students are looking for devices to help them write papers and handling class projects, assignments and research. Without a keyboard or mouse, the tablet is thought of as an accessory item for watching movies and playing games and with extra money sometimes hard to come by, a tablet is put on the back burner. Many students do plan on purchasing a tablet after graduation for social media and entertainment purposes.

Another item Hanley has studied is advertising, as more and more companies try to target this particular age group, but students are turned off by advertising. About 65-percent of the students report receiving ads and 70-percent say that they do not like them, however, if they were offered a coupon or discount at the time of the ad, they would be more inclined to like them. That may happen in the future, but for now, advertisers may have to search elsewhere for reaching these students.

The real upsurge is in smartphone usage and is probably one of the reasons that adopting tablets on campus has slowed down.  Smartphone usage has exploded – it is up a whopping 51-percent since 2009 to where 89-percent of the college students own a smartphone and 'dumb' phone usage has dropped from 62-percent to only 12-percent.


With today's smartphones, there is no reason to purchase a tablet, other than a need for a larger screen – they are so powerful that students can use them for just about anything, and it saves you the trouble of carrying another device.  The days of using your mobile phone for mainly talking and occasional web browsing have long since passed.  Social media is so important to college kids (and beyond), and while at one time students accessed those via their laptop or computer – the smartphone is now used almost exclusively (92-percent).  It is so easy to take a high quality picture or video with your mobile device and instantly post it to the internet…the name of the game is instant gratification.

A few other facts based on Hanley's research – "89-percent of smartphone owners use GPS to find locations of restaurants, retail outlets and movie theaters – Parents pay the bill for 61 percent of smartphone and 58 percent of feature phone users – The fastest growing segments for mobile content from 2009-14 are social media (29 to 93 percent), video (24 to 73 percent), weather (45 to 87 percent), GPS (43 to 86 percent), and buying products (16 to 49 percent) – Half of students report text messaging while in class – Even though 74 percent of smartphone users browse the Internet daily on their devices, 89 percent of feature phone users never search the Internet with their devices."

Please let us know on our Google+ Page if you are a student and if these statistics sound like you fall into this category…as always, we would love to hear from you.

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Senior Writer

Cory has written for Androidheadlines since 2013 and is a Senior Writer for the site. Cory has a background in Accounting and Finance and worked for the FBI in the past. From there he pursued his Masters in English Literature. Cory loves Android and Google related technology and specializes in Smartphone Comparisons on our site. Contact him at [email protected]

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