Mobile Devices

May 29, 2013

The PC is More Mission Critical Than You Might Think

If consumers could only have access to one of their gadgets for a full year, the PC is that device, a survey sponsored by Clear Channel Media and Entertainment has found. That the PC wins over the smartphone, the tablet and the TV probably is the result of consumer awareness that the PC is the single device supporting work, applications, voice communications, video communications, messaging and texting, video entertainment and content access.

Ironically, even as most consumers and businesses are making more use of non-PC devices, the PC remains the single multipurpose device able to support voice, video and data access, with the easiest ability to create content, not just consume it.

As a practical matter, of course, few consumers really must choose between use of their PC, tablets, smartphones and TVs. The big questions are more subtle, such as the amount of time people spend on each type of screen, and the behaviors and lead apps that characterize use of each screen.

On the other hand, in emerging markets, where it more often is likely consumers really must make choices about which screens to use, PCs seem to be the favored content consumption device.

The NPD DisplaySearch Global TV Replacement Study found that more households in emerging markets use devices other than a TV, including mobile devices such as tablets, smartphones and MP3 players, compared to users in developed markets. In all markets, TVs still are the dominant video consumption device, though.

As a practical matter, in developed countries, people tend to use four major screens when they are online or consuming content, including the TV, the PC, the tablet and the smartphone.

About 90 percent of all U.S. consumer media consumption, or 4.4 hours per day, is happening across all four screens, a study sponsored by Google found.

Users are watching TV on average for 43 minutes per day session, but 77 percent of that time people also are simultaneously using another device such as a smartphone or tablet.

Smartphones get used about 17 minutes per day session, compared to 30 minutes per session on tablets and 39 minutes on PCs.

The Google study also suggests that many operations or activities other than content consumption frequently begin on a smartphone, even if continued or completed on another device such as a tablet or PC.

In fact, the study suggests a majority of online tasks get initiated on a smartphone while being continued on another device, perhaps because the follow-on devices feature larger screens or easier input.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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