Upcoming Tablet Report: Initial Thoughts

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6 August 2013
Stephen Greer
Since May 2012, Celent has been releasing biannual evaluations of the mobile banking applications at the top 13 banks in the US. Coming soon, Celent will begin a new series looking at tablet banking applications from the same group. Over the course of only a few years, tablets have gone from a relatively new and untapped avenue for customer engagement to the hot topic eagerly discussed by industry personnel. Celent has had numerous conversations with clients and banks around digital channels, and some distinct patterns have emerged that deserve highlighting. First, most of the industry remains unclear about where tablets are placed when looking at digital channels. Are they part of online banking? Are they part of mobile? In reality, tablet is tablet. Tablets take the best of the PC and the best of mobile and combine them into a device that offers functionality, portability, and a rich user experience. Use cases also have to be taken into consideration when delineating between devices. Online banking is functional, complex, and a daytime/ work activity, while mobile is quick, contextual, and on-the-go. Tablets, in contrast, are often leisure devices, catering to casual couch browsing and intermittent time killing. It's a combination of how the device is used along with the rich interactivity that makes tablet optimization a critical component of any channel strategy going forward. Still, banks wrestle with the reality of device proliferation. Committing to digital channels can be costly, can take time, and often presents a fuzzy return on investment. It’s no surprise that so few banks have taken the plunge. Second observation: tablet banking apps are by no means standard. As our upcoming report shows, only 7 of the top 13 US banks have live iOS tablet apps, while only 2 have live Android apps. What’s even more curious is that the statistics on market share run in direct contrast to how banks have developed. Looking at the table below, with data from a survey done by Strategy Analytics, Android represents a staggering 67% of the market with 34.6 million units shipped. Meanwhile iOS is declining. Solely based on users, Android apps should be more prevalent.

Table 1: Global Total Tablet Shipments by Operating System

Operating System Q2 2012 Q2 2013
Apple iOS 17.0 14.6
Android 18.5 34.6
Windows 0.2 2.3
Blackberry 0.0 0.1
Others 0.3 0.0
Total 36.1 51.7

Source: Strategy Analytics

Banks need to be looking at digital channels holistically, whereby ‘digital’ is combination of the multichannel experience. Tablets are a distinct aspect of that approach, and sales are growing at a tremendous rate. Financial institutions can no longer sit on the sidelines and watch as the landscape develops around them. Celent does, however, expect tablet banking to be a relatively slow mover, especially as banks still grapple with the movement and rapid adoption of mobile. Look for Celent’s upcoming tablet report looking at tablet banking offerings at the top 13 US banks and a similar report evaluating the top Canadian banks.

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