For the first time in history, US consumers are using mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, more than PC’s to access the internet. This is the main reason why more and more companies are creating apps and making their websites mobile-friendly to reach more consumers. As mobile technology continues to evolve and make mobile devices a serious contender against personal computers, the future of the PC is becoming more and more uncertain.
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Mobile vs. Desktop Usage
It is estimated that 68 percent of American consumers own smartphones, while 45 percent own tablets. Over the years, the number of consumers who own mobile devices and computers has changed considerably. For instance, only 65 percent of American adult consumers owned cellphones in 2004, but in 2015, the figure had risen to 92 percent. On the other hand, only 35 percent of American adults owned smartphones in 2011, but this has since risen to 68 percent by 2015. When it comes to personal computers, such as laptops and desktop computers, a whopping 71 percent of American adults owned a PC in 2014. In 2015, the number had risen by only 2 percent to 73 percent. In 2010, only 3 percent of adults in the country owned a tablet, but the number has risen to 45 percent. This means that many American adults have at least five internet enabled devices they can use to shop online.
A recent study revealed that MP3 and computer ownership has dropped among younger adults since 2010. The study, which involved US adults aged between 18-29 years, revealed that computer ownership among this demographic remained unchanged in 2010 and 2011, at 88 percent, but increased by only 1 percent in 2012. By 2015, the number of computer owners within this age group had dropped to only 78 percent. On the other hand, 75 percent of young adults in this age group owned an MP3 player in 2010, but the number had dropped to just 51 percent in 2015. During the same period, game console ownership among this age group reduced from 62 percent in 2010 to 56 percent in 2015.
The study also revealed that cellphone ownership among this age group increased from 96 percent in 2010 to 98 percent in 2015. On the other hand, smartphone ownership increased from just 52 percent in 2011 to 86 percent in 2015. Tablet and E-Book reader ownership, for the same age group, increased from just 5 percent, in 2010, to 50 percent and 18 percent respectively in 2015.
The study further revealed that whites are more likely to buy a tablet than Hispanics and African Americans. However, tablet ownership among African Americans is not statistically different from tablet ownership among whites and Hispanics. Ownership rates for smartphones and tablets continue to rise. However, ownership rates for E-Book readers, game consoles, laptops and desktops have either declined or held steady. For consumers living in developing countries, smartphones are the primary device for accessing the internet.
Trends and Technologies Driving Mobile Usage
Advances in CPU and GPU Technology
By 2018, smartphones will be able to handle, virtual reality gaming, 4K streaming and efficiently handle multitasking functions. The latest smartphones have ARM CPUs, which are estimated to perform 50 times better than CPUs used five years ago. In addition to that, these CPUs consume 75 percent less energy than CPUs made five years ago. It is interesting to note that 16 percent of adults use tablets to access the internet. Another interesting point to note is that the iPhone 8 A8 chip is over 50 times faster than the chip used in the first iPhone. On the other hand, the iPhone 6 graphics-processing unit (GPU) is 84 times faster than the GPU used in the first iPhone.
Always-On Screen Technology
Smartphone owners normally check their screens at least 150 times per day. Samsung recently unveiled the Always-On technology in the Samsung S7, which allows the screen to remain dimly lit after screen lock while displaying the time and date.
Increased usage of mobile devices has led to the development of millions of mobile apps. Research has shown that smartphone owners spend 90 percent of their time using apps and only 10 percent accessing the internet. In 2013, the average consumer spent 47 percent of their digital time on a desktop computer, but this reduced to 35 percent in 2016.
Smartphone and tablet owners normally spend 43 percent of their digital time playing games, and this is expected to grow by 15 percent. On the other hand, 25 percent of their digital time is dedicated to social networking apps. This is expected to grow by 49 percent. Consumers also spend 10 percent of their digital time on entertainment websites and apps, but this is expected to grow by 22 percent. Digital time spent on utilities, news, productivity, health and fitness, lifestyle and other apps are; 10 percent, 2 percent, 2 percent, 1 percent, 1 percent and 5 percent respectively.
Proliferation of Music and Podcast Apps
Digital time spent on music apps is expected to grow by 79 percent. in 2015, Spotify reported that it had 50 million users and 12 million paying customers who stream music. Out of these, 45 percent used desktop software while 42 percent used smartphones. Only 10 percent and 3 percent used tablets and web players respectively. On the other hand, Apple reported that it had 15 million subscribers on Apple Music App. A recent study revealed that two thirds of podcast listeners listen through their smartphones and tablets. It is interesting to note that 78 percent of all podcast listening on iOS is on the Apple Podcast App.
Role of M-Commerce
In the second quarter of 2015, consumers spent 59 percent of their digital time shopping online through their smartphones, but only made purchases amounting to 15 percent of the total ecommerce revenue during that period. On the other hand, online shoppers only spent 41 percent of their digital time shopping online through their personal computers, but made purchases amounting to 85 percent of total online trade during the same quarter. This shows that while consumers spend most of their digital time on their mobile devices, they feel much more comfortable placing orders on their personal computers. While mobile devices are increasing in popularity, as far as eCommerce is concerned, they still have issues with content storage and connectivity.
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