“Overview of the tablet universe” – Benedict Evans at News On The Move II

News on the move logoWhen Press Gazette went digital only it became apparent that the printed newspaper trade couldn’t support a printed trade newspaper. How depressing is that when you think about it? Still, they’ve put a lot of effort into re-inventing the brand for the digital era, and News On The Move II was an afternoon event last week presented by Press Gazette, and supported by Google. Here are my notes from the opening session, with analyst Benedict Evans

“Overview of the tablet universe” – Benedict Evans

Benedict Evans of Enders Analysis was presenting a whistle-stop tour of some of the key facts and figures about tablet, smartphone and PC usage and ownership.

The high level numbers are that between them iPhones and Android devices are selling three times as many units as PCs each quarter. Now Benedict said the comparison was in some ways unfair, since the replacement rate for PCs is every four years, compared to every two or three years for a phone. We probably haven’t had tablets in the market long enough to work out the half-life of their upgrade cycle.

What Benedict did identify as a massive shift was the move from a world where one household had one connected PC, to a world where everybody in a household had their own connected device. This was driving an explosion in the amount of time spent online, which should, he reckoned, be great news for publishers, since these people are gasping for content to consume.

Smartphones are now close to being 50% of every phone sold on the planet, with 35% of those running Android, and 11% of them being iPhones. There is a big chunk of unactivated Android devices on the Chinese market, where you can get the hardware cheaply, but the Google services are not available.

It should be noted that the bulk of Android sales, he said, are at low price points, and this is important for publishers. I’ve blogged before about how hard it is to get Android users engaged and spending money. Benedict made two important points here. One, that there are plenty of Android users out in the market who simply took whatever cheap handset was given to them in a deal. They probably don’t even know it runs Android, and certainly couldn’t tell you what an operating system is. The chances of getting them into the app store seem slim.

He also said that there is a clear signal sent when a user buys an Android tablet. If you are in a store, he says, and you have the choice between an iPad Mini with all the brand cachet and the app ecosystem that goes with iOS, and you opt to save £100 or more by going for a cheaper branded or an even cheaper generic Android tablet, you are saying something about where you find value for money. Someone who buys a £100 tablet rather than an iPad is unlikely to subscribe to a digital edition of Vogue, Benedict observed.

The talk was mainly concerned with Apple iOS and Android, but BlackBerry and Windows Phone did get a mention. Benedict said he now has to consciously remind himself to include BlackBerry in his reports, even in areas like messaging where they were traditionally strong, such is their fall from grace. And on Windows Phone he conceded that Nokia were making “beautiful devices”, but that there didn’t seem to be any indication of a change in market trajectory for the platform. He used the lovely phrase “edge-case people” about those who have opted for Windows Phone.

Benedict has published his slides from the event — “The mobile explosion”.


Also doing a solo spot on stage during News On The Move II was magazine veteran Anthony Noguera, and I’ll have my notes on that session next…

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