Nearly half of all smartphone and tablet owners prefer mobile devices over personal computers when accessing the Internet, a finding that foreshadows a major shift in the online landscape. Desktop and laptop computers now maintain only a slight lead in device preference when it comes to Web-based activities, and if current trends hold, PCs will soon lose their edge.
Among male mobile device owners, this has already happened. According to a survey by Prosper Mobile Insights, 51.8 percent of all men prefer either smartphones or tablets over PCs.
Women have not embraced mobile devices to this degree, particularly when it comes to smartphones — while 36.9 percent of men prefer smartphones for online activity, only 32.7 percent of women express the same preference.
Those surveyed owned either a smartphone or a tablet. Specifically, nine in 10 owned a smartphone, with the remainder owning either only a tablet or a tablet and a smartphone. As mobile devices approach high percentages of penetration in American society, the need for mobile-optimized Web properties is increasingly apparent.
Breaking Down Device Usage
While smartphones and tablets are similar, they are used in varying ways. According to Experian Marketing Services, 55 percent of all time spent on smartphones is used for calling, texting or emailing. The typical functionality of a tablet would suggest that its active-use time is spent much differently.
Despite these differences, smartphone and tablet owners are unified in their discontent for websites that aren’t mobile-optimized. Half said they wouldn’t revisit a website that couldn’t handle mobile functionality. Given the growing rate of mobile Internet usage, businesses are reaching a breaking point beyond which a failure to accommodate smartphones and tablet Web traffic could be devastating.
Quality of Service Matters
One interesting trend seen from the survey is the importance of high-quality Internet service. Sixty-nine percent of all respondents said they value reliable service and coverage over having the best technology. Meanwhile, nearly 51 percent of respondents said the cost of their data plans is the most significant issue with their current mobile service providers.
This is a crucial insight for mobile marketers with plans to strategize across multiple devices and service providers. More than sub-par hardware, bad service providers could help determine which devices thrive and which are abandoned for better connections and expanded coverage areas.
Still, connectivity troubles won’t be enough to turn consumers back to traditional PCs: Mobile device preference remains high, even though half those surveyed admitted to having experienced poor connections on their smartphones and tablets.
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