As you read this, we’ve passed the mobile tipping point: According to research by comScore, Americans do most of their digital media consumption on mobile devices.
Subsequent reports show mobile continuing to grow its share of “screen time,” rising higher than 60%. Apps account for about half the time spent on mobile devices.
By comparison, desktops – once the leading devices for productivity and pleasure – have consistently lost share. They now take up just 32% of users’ total attention.
What’s Driving the Change?
High Levels of Adoption Overall
For years, Pew Research has reported ongoing growth in mobile adoption worldwide. In the U.S., about 72% of adults own and use a smartphone. Although coverage varies worldwide and there are developing nations with little access, smartphones are broadly desirable and can facilitate connectivity.
A Desire for Social Networking
76% of Internet users Pew surveyed in 40 countries use social networks. There’s great desire for social engagement even in countries where widespread Internet use is still unheard of. Plus, Facebook continues to be dominant in the U.S.: More than 50% of Americans use it at least monthly.
Users are selective about apps, and connections from mobile Web browsers are much higher than those from apps. However, popular apps have a large, growing audience. While the #1 app is still Facebook, 24 of the 25 most popular apps have shown growth. The most popular apps – Facebook, YouTube, and Facebook Messenger – account for a large proportion of smartphone use.
Is Desktop Done? Trends for 2016 and Beyond
Although businesses do need to design for the mobile Web, desktop is far from done. Why? Although desktop-based online sessions are in decline, desktops rule when it comes to one of the most important metrics of online success: Conversions.
Mobile experience simply isn’t consistent or high-performance enough for many users to be comfortable converting on these devices. Plus, there are negative perceptions about online security that go beyond the scope of any one brand’s site.
In 2016 and beyond, companies must work harder to provide consistent, high quality experiences across mobile and desktop. Although mobile has skyrocketed, there’s still room to grow in many major markets. Companies doing business in other countries in addition to the United States should be even more proactive about providing excellent mobile design.
Last but not least: Though the average company will have difficulty achieving much penetration with an in-house app, marketers should explore ways to increase exposure through apps with a large installed base. These include familiar players like Google and Facebook, so digital marketing best practices will continue to apply.