“The tablet was becoming too much of a hassle to carry with me everywhere.” That is a paraphrase of the words of many individuals who

Why tablets are not really mobile

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“The tablet was becoming too much of a hassle to carry with me everywhere.” That is a paraphrase of the words of many individuals who have owned and used a tablet. After the initial excitement wears out, many tablet owners just use those devices same way they use a laptop. You see, tablets, by definition, are not truly mobile.

It is generally agreed that mobile has seven traits that cannot be replicated by the six legacy mass media. They are:

  1. Mobile is the first personal mass media i.e. as a rule, one mobile to one person
  2. Mobile is permanently carried i.e. pocketable and handy
  3. Mobile is always-on i.e. always connected to a network
  4. Mobile has a built-in payment mechanism
  5. Mobile is available at the point of creative inspiration i.e. because it is always carried around
  6. Mobile has the most accurate audience measurement i.e. because it is specific to one person
  7. Mobile captures the social context of media consumption i.e. if the operator/carrier decides to track it, the social context information of the user can be captured.

Tablets do not fulfil any of these fully. Some tablets fulfil 3 and 7, because they have a SIM slot. But even at that, they miss out on the remaining 5 traits. It is easy to see how far from being truly mobile the average tablet is. The difference is glaring. In the end, a tablet gets used same way a laptop is used. Tablets are more dumbed down PCs than large smartphones. It is why they were initially called Tablet PCs. We got lazy and just started calling them tablets.

In the same manner that phones are inherently superior in capability to laptop or Desktop PCs, phones are also superior in capability to tablets.

We ran a survey of tablet usage recently, and all respondents said that they use their tablets for reading (online and offline) and video. However, 65% of them said that they sometimes go for days without using it.

For many tablet users, a phablet will eventually replace their both their phones and tablets. Phablets, being just huge smartphones, are fully mobile. They are certainly more convenient to carry in your pocket or in your hand at all times.


  1. Fully agree with you Mr Mo. My primary smart device until a week ago is a Galaxy Note 8.0 and my phone (A.K.A. “stone” – Pastor Chris Oyakhilome’s name for phones that can only call and text! Can’t take a bible, can’t surf and do the other smart stuff!!) was a dual SIM Nokia phone that costs 4,000 bucks! But because I was getting tired of having to take my tab everywhere I got a Nokia X to serve as a stop-gap until I can afford a truly smart phone. Not too keep on phablets though unless I sell off (Or give the madam) the Note. Why own an 8″ and a 5.5″ android devices?

  2. Spot on. Tablets are a pain in the hands to carry around. Most folks who carry them around do it for flaunting reasons because they see the tablet as the ‘next’ status or class symbol.
    I observe that once you buy a tablet, you soon get over the initial fuss and return to it occasionally only to play games or watch videos. Better still, you leave it to excited kids to play games on.
    As for me, I have restrained myself from buying a tablet for long (despite my office colleagues flaunting an iPad or Galaxy Tab in my face) because I have a Galaxy Note. I have used the Notes 1 and 2, and I am on the Note 3 now. I have found that the Note suits me best as a functional hybrid between a smartphone and a tablet. I don’t think I will ever need a tablet, when the King of Phablets, the Galaxy Note, only keeps getting better, smarter and more useful with every iteration. Now, I look forward to the Note 4 by October this year.

  3. Spot on.

    Although I eventually went ahead to get two of those, they are mostly ONLY superior to a phablet when reading graphical PDF documents, and for playing immersive games.

    I don’t play much games apart from draughts and scrabble… the phablet handles those adequately. Every other thing is done on my six incher phablet.

    So, I hardly touch the Tablet at all for weeks.. I am too big to fight the children for it.. they play (educational) games on it, use it as a dictionary, browse family photographs. Aye, the children have it!

    That’s it.

    With Samsung already championing a seven inch phablet, I believe full sized Tablets would get relegated to the background even more…. due to their comparative immobility.

  4. Its interesting to see that there was once a day ‘we’ all craved tablet(PC)s: the bigger, the better. However, ‘we’ are now getting tired of lugging around a device that is mostly useful for leisure and not a ‘truly mobile’ device. I use the word we in parenthesis ‘cos it seems owning a tablet was once the desire of most…

    Ok….scratch all that philosophical-sounding stuff I just typed above…

    Using a tablet is tiresome: shikena! I once had a Chinese-model tablet I enthusiastically purchased once only to discover that I ended up dropping it for days without even touching it. The only time I took it on for extended hours was when I had a faulty smartphone in the repair shop.

    Lately, I’ve had a phablet on my mind tho’…

    I guess people like Amazon saw this coming hence the focus on building an ecosystem of content rather than the craze about hardware features…In the end, content will win and only devices which can handle more content on-the-go will….well…win as well!

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