Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, March 22, 2019
So many of us have done it – started doing with our smartphone or tablet what we only formerly did with our PC. Are some activities so addictive or prevalent that people do them across their many devices? Based on our latest research, the answer is yes, and especially so for certain activities.
Nearly one-fourth (24%) of online adults around the world tap into their social networks on 4 connected devices, from among the many PCs, smartphones, and tablets they use.
This is based on the TUP/Technology User Profile 2018-Global survey, spanning 14,273 online adults across the US, UK, Germany, China, and India.
By contrast, certain activities are limited – being used more often on only one device. Making voice/video/web calls is mostly done on a single device, at 44% of online adults. Around one in three online adults also primarily use one device for the following types of activities: managing finances, photos, create/share videos, purchases, and reading.
What encourages or limits users to focus certain activities on fewer devices? Convenience and capability are key factors. Although desktop PCs can and do have webcams for video calls, they are less mobile and therefore less convenient than smartphones or tablets for unplanned calls or conferences. The same can be said for taking spontaneous photos or videos using cameras in ever-handy smartphones and tablets. Screen size and setting also have an impact. Comparison shopping benefits from the larger screens of PCs and tablets. Reading a book can be more enjoyable while sitting back with a tablet than sitting upright at a desktop PC.
The capability and preference gap
There is a perennial gap between what’s possible with a device and what people choose to do. For example, we still find few who regularly take photos with their tablets. In this specific case, social pressure has some impact as larger devices may block other’s views or at the least be less discreet.
Platforms from Facebook to Amazon and Spotify do their best to be widely present and highly available. Native apps typically offer a more stable, richer, and device-appropriate experience, further encouraging users to use them across their multiple devices. Meanwhile, device-makers continue to expand the capabilities of their devices to better accommodate and anticipate user demand.
Our research shows that as users gain experience with tech products, they broaden their activities and simultaneously expand their use across the devices they regularly use. I expect users to continue demanding to do whatever they want with whatever device they have.
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