Google did some ‘research’, says most people use tablets to play games or email

October 23, 2012
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Google has just published a 10 page ‘research paper’ that tries to make some conclusions about people’s table usage. Before we even get to the data, let’s point out the methodology Google used to carry out their investigation. First question: How big was the sample size? 33 people. Yes, 33 people. Despite Google being loaded to the gills with people who have PhDs, the people who wrote this paper thought to themselves that there’s nothing wrong with a sample size of just 33 people. Palm, meet face. Second question: What tablets did these 33 people actually use? 24 of them (73%) owned an iPad. The remaining 9 (27%) owned something running Android. That’s actually a fairly accurate representation of the real world, so we don’t have any complaints about that. The split between men and women? 39% and 61% respectively, so Google is assuming tablets are used more by women than men.

Now that we got that out of the way, what did Google find out about how people use tablets? The most popular thing to do, unsurprisingly, is email. Thirty years ago people said that the “killer app” of the internet was email. Looks like nothing has changed. The second hottest thing to do? Game. That explains why iPad ownership is high. Let’s not beat around the bush, there are more games on iOS, so when people go tablet shopping they take that into consideration. The third thing? Social networking, basically your Twitter and Facebook stuff.

Where does browsing fit into all of this? Oddly enough, browsing is broken down into several subcategories. There’s browsing the internet with the intent to buy something, browsing the internet to check up on news, just plain web browsing in general, and more. All of those rank as “low frequency” activities done by the “most number of participants”. Translation: Everyone uses the internet, but not all that often.

Right, enough numbers, what’s the key takeaway? Google has figured out that people use tablets at home when they don’t want to want to be in front of a computer. Not the mind blowing conclusion you were all waiting for, but then again what did you expect?


  • Electronics Canuck

    My cat could have told you that.

    Jokes aside, Google already figured gaming was a popular thing to do on tablets. “The playground is open” was the phrase associated either the Nexus 7 at launch. Google knows what the people know: if you want to game portable style, get a tablet. If you want to be productive, a laptop is hundreds of times better.

  • banjoonmyknee

    Surprised to hear that video browsing isn’t in the top 3.

    • Stefan Constantinescu

      Makes sense if you think about it: If most people use tablets at home, then that means there’s a strong chance they have a TV in the living room.

  • mrband

    (double facepalm)

    Please, tell me that Google has got this “research” for free… A single cent spent would be in excess.

  • shoobe01

    Do you have any background in usability research, cognitive psychology, etc?

    This is a perfectly reasonable sample size for the type of study performed, with quite deep and validated (sitting in people’s houses, looking at them) information. Surveys with thousands of people are much, much, much less reliable and provide different data.