Contributed by Rohit Dadwal, Managing Director, Mobile Marketing Association Asia Pacific Limited

Rohit Dadwal

A widely-quoted Gartner report (dated June 2011) estimates that worldwide mobile advertising revenue will reach US$20.6 billion by 2015, and that the Asia-Pacific region will continue to lead mobile ad revenues between 2011 and 2015, growing from US$1.6 billion this year to US$6.9 billion in 2015. At the point when the report was issued, tablets were already making their presence felt on the global scale, and tablets seem to only be gaining in popularity.

While uptake of mobile phones remains high (a trend that looks set to continue) it is tablets that are making waves in the mobile space. A more recent report from Gartner estimates that worldwide tablet sales are expected to reach 118.9 million units this year, a 98 percent increase from 2011’s figure of 60 million units sold. Not that tablets are replacing mobile phones, or even smart phones in functionality, but the unique attributes of the tablet give it an appeal all its own.

Today’s tablet buyer has more choices than before. A plethora of Android devices are available on the market, with more on the way. Windows 8 Mobile Phone is specifically designed to include multi-touch and multi-processing. Samsung’s Galaxy Note is proving unexpectedly popular, handling both tablet and phone functions in a single package. Outside Asia, Amazon, too, is taking advantage of the demand for tablets with its Kindle Fire.

Tablets have an easy appeal. Their larger screens make them perfect consumption devices, suited to the average person’s computing needs of email, light word-processing and web surfing. The touch interface is natural and intuitive, and tablets are portable. They are even beginning to take the place of other media: ebooks, in particular, are very much at home on tablets. Tablets also free the user from having to use a computer in a fixed place (like a desk) or with a particular posture (sitting down, with a laptop on the knees). Instead, tablets can be used anywhere. Forrester Research reports that 85%of tablet users use their tablets while watching television – and another report from Nielsen says that 30% of tablet use happens while watching television. Tablets can even be used in bed, so it’s no surprise that they are used on sofas in front of television sets.

For now, tablets are still a subset of the mobile device category, but that may be set to change. Tablets offer advertisers and marketers another, different frontier, and a chance to craft engaging consumers experiences on a platform that is even better for the consumption of rich media than the mobile phone, but which offers much of the same level of connectivity.

Tablet users are ready consumers of information and media – and if the purchase and use of ad-supported apps is any indication, these savvy consumers are not against a certain level of advertising in exchange for increased utility. For the moment the tablet might seem to be a novelty, but they will play a much bigger role as we move to a smarter tomorrow. In time to come, the mobile tablet will be in a class of its own, with its own range of content that takes full advantage of the platform’s unique attributes.