Mobile Internet users have now overtaken desktop users

Even though mobile Internet users have surpassed desktop counterparts in various different metrics over the past year or so, new data reveals that yet another milestone has now been reached. According to a report by comScore, the number of mobile-only Internet users has now overtaken desktop-only users in the US.

This fundamentally important milestone was reached in March and it means that anyone involved in online marketing must now take mobile search much more seriously, especially if they were not already doing so!

The remarkable rise of mobile

The well-documented rise in popularity of mobile devices has thus alerted marketers that the need to adjust their promotional activity, with smartphone and tablet users in mind, is paramount.

In 2014, it came to light that app usage had exceeded desktop usage and as a result, accounted for half of all digital media consumption in the US, with similar data from around the world quickly following suit.

But today, it seems as though people’s primary gateway to the Internet is no longer through traditional PCs, which have been on the wane anyway. Both new and existing generations are benefitting from better and more accessible online experiences through mobile that wasn’t previously possible on desktop.

Single platform users’ share

Perhaps the most amazing aspect of this particular landmark is the speed in which it has happened. Just one year ago, there was around twice the percentage of desktop-only Internet users (19.1 per cent) as mobile-only users (10.8 per cent).

But whereas mobile-only users have increased marginally to 11.3 per cent, desktop-only users have sharply declined to just 10.6 per cent. This is a strong indication that the vast majority of today’s digital population (78 per cent) are multi-platform users.

A shift in attitude

When you take into account the range of benefits that mobile devices provide over traditional desktop machines, it is perhaps no surprise that our primary gateway to the Internet has changed.

“For the longest time, the desktop computer was that vehicle connecting us all online, but the convenience of being able to communicate on-the-go, 24/7, and with all of the world’s information in our pocket gave the smartphone certain technological advantages over the fixed web,” notes comScore.

“These benefits coupled with advancements in 4G data speeds, smaller-but-more-powerful processor chips, and in effect, thinner and lighter phones, all enabled the smartphone to become the digital device of choice in recent years.”

The future of desktop

In spite of these statistics, the humble desktop will no doubt remain an important piece of technology. When it comes to complex and complicated tasks, such as processing lots of data, desktop computers are a much better option than mobile thanks to superior hardware components.

For the working environment too, it is difficult to see how workers could perform complex tasks effectively on a five inch screen! A 24 inch screen offers much more real estate for effective working which means that desktops won’t be dropped from intensive working environments anytime soon.

In addition to workplace applications, desktops also remain the machine of choice for retail purchases, as 87 per cent of total digital commerce still comes from this platform. Research suggests that mobile users will often browse products and services on their smartphones but actually choose to buy, later, on desktop.

Effectively tracking touch points across devices

This all raises another important consideration regarding touch points and the tracking of the sales funnel into conversions but that is a whole different story that we will be writing about in a forthcoming blog. This is a fundamentally important consideration though which needs to be taken into account now that it is clear that more conversions are being initially assisted by mobile devices.

But while desktop computers still have an important role to play in society, we are becoming an increasingly “mobile first” world, which calls for all brands and businesses to re-think and adjust their marketing strategies accordingly.

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