I recently “overheard” a member of our market research online community (MROC) say, “I treat my smartphone like my child and carry it everywhere I go.” It’s official: Smartphones have replaced children. Not really, but the statement speaks to the way that consumers have changed their thinking and behavior because of mobile devices. The rapid adoption and dominant presence of mobile devices speaks to their importance in consumers' daily lives.

As part of our effort to develop forward-thinking research using innovative approaches, Forrester is collecting behavioral data by tracking consumers' activities on smartphones and tablets. By using a passive tracking technology, we now have a detailed, inside look into what consumers are doing on their smartphones and tablets and when they're doing it. Preliminary results have shown some surprising (and not so surprising) data insights.

For example, our analysis shows that tablets keep users more engaged than smartphones. Not surprisingly, media apps are the largest drivers of this trend. TV/telecom/video apps like Netflix and YouTube as well as book and magazine apps like the Kindle app and the Bible app have the ability to entertain users for long periods. What may be more surprising is that almost every type of app is more likely to be accessed through a smartphone than through a tablet. However, when we look at engagement, or time spent using the app, only social networking and communication apps engage users longer on smartphones than on tablets.


Users have a narrower range of activities on tablets than on smartphones. Tablet usage centers on a few popular apps like Netflix, Kindle, and YouTube. While smartphones may attract larger audiences, tablets can claim longer periods of amusement.

Forrester believes that getting mobile right will require you to change how you see customers, your relationship with your customers, and the platforms, people, and processes that power those systems. And a big part of understanding your customers is analyzing their mobile behavior.

Forrester clients that want to learn more about how consumers are using their mobile devices in today’s highly digital and connected environment, can sign up for my July 29 webinar ‘What Behavioral Smartphone And Tablet Data Tells Us About The Mobile Consumer: A Mobile Landscape In The US and UK Markets’ at 11 a.m. EST.