The New Multi-screen World: A Look At The Changes That Are Changing Everything

Smartphone usage is rocketing upwardsSeveral new research reports have emerged in the last month that point to the unprecedented rate of change related to consumer adoption of mobile technology.  Multi screen usage—across smartphones and tablets– is exploding, and the result is, as Forrester Research has declared, we’ve just  reached a tipping point related to the size of the consumer population who access information through many types of devices all day long, and are what they term “always addressable.”

As Forrester Analyst Melissa Parish wrote in her August report announcing their findings on “The Always Addressable Customer”:

We’ve entered an era where more Americans access the mobile Internet than go to college. That kind of shift is an indicator of an even bigger change that’s occurring: Digital behaviors continue to splinter across more devices, but those behaviors are more flexible and more frequent, connecting people to each other, to information, and to brands more often and in more places.

The pace of change in the last year is dizzying.  For anyone involved in the media business who keeps a close eye on audience analytics- the changes happening in just the last 12 months are sometimes hard to comprehend.  Portable device access to web content is rocketing upwards, and usage is fragmenting and accelerating across multiple devices– all with no signs of leveling off.  According to MIT Technology Review Smartphones are already on pace to be the fastest spreading technology in human history, with only the Tablet “poised for even swifter adoption.”  And Cisco estimates that smartphone online usage more than doubled in the past year and will double again in the coming year.

Here is a look at some of the eye-popping stats from Pew Research’s September Smartphone Ownership update:

  • In less than a year, smartphone penetration has grown 10%: from 35 to 45%
  • The marjority of 18-29 year olds–  two-thirds –  now own smartphones
  • 66% access the Internet every day on their smartphone and majority of these users—once they own a smartphone- never leave their home without it.

And with all this usage come new behaviors- impacting the way they search for products and information, the way they find a local businesses, and the way they use social networks.  The latest wave of the Google / Iposos Our Mobile Planet study found:

  • 57% of smartphone users search on their phones every day.
  • 94% of smartphone users look for local information on their phone and 90% take action after searching, including making a purchase or contacting the business.
  • Smartphones have changed the way people shop- 96% have researched a product or service using their smartphone.
  • 80% visit social networks

All of this rapid change means we’ll all need to closely monitor how consumer behaviors evolve as a result. As NYU professor Clay Shirky has written (see my previous post on Shirky’s views on the historical context of the technological shifts we’re seeing): “Revolution doesn’t happen when society adopts new technology, it happens when society adopts new behaviors.” And the full extent of these new behaviors– and their societal impact– typically don’t fully unfold for a significant period of time.  All we can know right now is that we’re in for quite a ride, and it’s coming fast.

The full Google Iposos”Our Mobile Planet” Study:


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