Joseph Thomas

There’s no denying tablets are everywhere, especially at ad:tech San Francisco where attendees ditch notebooks for iPads. Marketing Master Lori H. Schwartz, Chief Technology Catalyst at McCann Worldgroup and Andrew Solmssen, Managing Director of LA – Possible Worldwide share their insights into the Tabletization of America.

Schwartz believes there is a flood of opportunity for tablets, as they continue to sell by the millions. She believes Asia has the largest opportunity and growth potential, especially within the Android ecosystem where manufacturing costs are lower.

Complementing tablet growth, users are flocking to tablets because they are easier to use, more personal and lighter. Currently, video is the number one use for tablets, but Schwartz thinks tablets will become more complex as time progresses, performing more PC-like functionality.

The public will undoubtedly find new uses for tablets, such as a menu in restaurants or sketchpad for artists. Airlines, like JetBlue, are also starting to adopt tablets. Tablets are becoming a solution, opening up new content channels and marketing opportunities. For example, Samsung rolled out an education tablet, where the teacher and each student have a tablet.

As a physical piece of hardware, tablets are revolutionizing our lives. Moreover, tablet accessories are converting the tablet into a laptop using a keyboard dock. For Android, users can download a file manager app to move files around as if they are using a PC. Soon, Schwartz notes there isn’t much tablets won't be able to do.

Solmssen asks, “What is a tablet?” Is it a mobile device? Or is it a television? Or is it a laptop? Nielsen decided tablets are a mobile device, above all else. Solmssen says companies need to design their products with mobile as the first priority.

"Mobile first" leaves little room for extraneous features. Apps are purpose-driven and have a narrow scope. Apps also have a standardized interaction throughout using a mobile framework. For example, the Apple App Store and Google Play (Android Market) are the only place to buy apps. He says leveraging native hardware is key to improving performance. Designing for mobile first makes the most sense – it’s a great way to build a product.

Apps versus Mobile Web

Apps can leverage the hardware better than the mobile web, such as using the accelerometer, GPS, screen orientation, microphone and gestures. However, the mobile web is much more accessible for users. He notes the average person has 18 apps on their smartphone, even though there are 500,000 available. At Apple, the Top 50 apps get 50 percent of app time. Additionally, users are less inclined to install an app for one-time use so mobile web is great for one-off tasks. Mobile web is a good challenge for web designers, because it forces them to focus on adaptive design. With the addition of HTML5, mobile web will increasingly perform more app-like functionality.

Unification is the Next Big Thing

In his own job, Solmssen says clients are seeking a unified approach toward their apps. They want the user to have the same experience whether they are using the iPhone, iPad, Android or computer. However, he notes there is a substantially higher development cost with native apps and they also cost more to maintain. Whereas, he claims, mobile web apps are cheaper to deploy and update.

This article is part of Allvoices’ series on ad:tech, the largest digital marketing and technology conferences and expositions. Check out for more of Allvoices’ ad:tech San Francisco event coverage. This series is supported by ad:tech.