PC vs Tablet: how we use these computers

Recent research has revealed some fascinating data about what computer devices Australians use and assicated activities on each device1.

We are reaching the point where the majority of households have a tablet as well as a PC with 75% also having a smart phone.

Unlike the PC which everyone in the family will access, the tablet is “owned” by a single user in the same way as their smart phone.

A key piece of information from this research for us is that both on the PC or the tablet, Australians are looking at their email.

How many tablets are there?

Some 9.3 million Australians 14 years and older (48%) now have a tablet computer in the household. Interestingly just about all tablet owners (99.7%) also have a personal computer, on top of either a desktop or laptop.

Online activities per device

The data (for the year to June 2014) shows that the personal computer remains the hub of household online activity.

Among people with (theoretical) access to both a desktop/laptop and a tablet, more say they use have used a personal computer than used a tablet to conduct all internet activities in the last four weeks.

Email remains the number one online activity on both types of computer. 68% of people with both types in the household say they emailed via personal computer in average four week period, while 34% say they used a tablet. General internet browsing is the second most common activity on both devices, with 48% of people using a personal computer and 29% using a tablet.

Social networking, however, is the third most common activity people say they do on tablets (23%) but comes behind banking transactions, checking account balances and paying bills on PCs.

Reading newspapers is the 10th most common tablet activity. 12% of tablet owners now read newspapers on a tablet in an average four week period. Still, 17% read newspapers on the personal computer, putting the activity well outside the PC top ten.

Tim Martin, General Manager – Media, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“We are fast approaching the moment when the majority of Australians live in a household with both a tablet computer and a laptop or desktop computer – and to top it off, over 3 in 4 of these people also have a smartphone!

“Aside from giving a guide as to what form of computer people prefer for different tasks, the fact that fewer people in dual-access households use a tablet than a PC for all activities also suggests that tablets are, like smartphones, considered more of a personal rather than shared device. That is, Dad may well live in a household with one or more tablets—but does he even know the unlock passcode?

“Although the personal computer remains the more commonly used device for all internet activities, any business with an online presence—especially media companies concerned with achieving maximum reach—will need to keep a close eye on our changing device preferences.

“With 1 in 8 Australians now reading newspapers on a tablet in an average four week period, newspaper publishers will need to ensure that they produce content, such as streaming video, interactive infographics and photo galleries, that appeals directly to tablet owners.”


1. Roy Morgan Research Article No. 5758  – media release Thursday, 28 August 2014

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