Salary Survey Extra is a series of dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our annual Salary Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.
In 2010, Apple priced its very first iPad — the base model, with 16GB storage — at $499. As of late last year, the newest model comes with up to 1TB of storage and cellular support — if you’re willing to swallow a $1,649 price tag. In other words, the marketplace for handheld computers is still surging and functionality and features are still on an upward climb.
Smartphones and tablets may eventually become indistinguishable from each other. Indeed, high-end phones and tablets already offer most of the same bells and whistles, with phones perhaps still holding a key edge in camera technology. As well as, you know, sending and receiving phone calls, which is still a thing that smartphones are (sometimes) used for.
When they aren’t competing with each other, tablets and smartphones are — gradually — competing to replace desktop and laptop computers as the most important IT accessories of the modern workplace. It’s not really a fair fight at the moment, but that could change be changing.
Dictation and voice recognition, or perhaps some other as-yet-unguessed technology, may someday replace the need to have keyboards and mouses (mice?) or trackpads as primary input devices. Lots of people already talk to their phones instead of swipe-texting or using good, old-fashioned two-thumb hunt-and-pecking.
Even so, however, it’s hard to imagine a rapid or complete transition away from the familiarity of typing and clicking. And while phones and tablets have gotten both more powerful and more cross-functional with traditional desktop and laptop computers, the popularity of multi-monitor displays suggests people aren’t entirely ready to have work be concentrated in such a small viewing area.
We didn’t let any of that stop us, however, from asking about the popularity of smartphones and tablets as tools in the workplace. We asked Salary Survey respondents to give us an estimate of the amount of time per day that they use tablets and phones to perform work-related tasks. Here’s what we learned:
Q: How many hours per day do you use a smartphone or tablet to do your current job?
I never use a smartphone or tablet. — 14.9 percent
An hour or so per day — 30.4 percent
A couple of hours per day — 24.5 percent
3 to 4 hours per day — 13.6 percent
5 to 6 hours per day — 7.4 percent
7 to 8 hours per day — 3.7 percent
More than 8 hours per day — 2.9 percent
Everything I do requires a smartphone or tablet. — 2.7 percent
First off, it’s interesting to note that there are at least a handful of certified IT professionals out there who can already cram their entire jobs into a phone or tablet. The potential at least exists, it would seem, for phones and tablets to become the go-to setup of choice for IT work. A notable 15 percent of those surveyed, on the other hand, don’t use phones or tablets at all.
The biggest patch of real estate in between those extremes is occupied by 55 percent of survey respondents who use their phones or tablets either for roughly an hour per day (30.4 percent) or for a couple of hours (24.5 percent). These people have the tools, but aren’t using them to do much more than maybe check work e-mails.
Another nearly 11 percent of those surveyed are getting between three and four hours of effective (or maybe not-so-effective) work done on their handheld devices. Other than the do-everything die-hards, however, fewer than 12 percent of survey respondents are using their phones and tablets more than half of the hours in the day.
Handheld computing may indeed be the future of IT work — but that future is not here yet.