In a New York Minute: Mobile-Device Usage Habits Changing Quickly

Device Multiplication: Which Device for Which Task?In this month’s NSI Newsletter, I take up the issue of the ever-changing landscape of mobile devices and offer up some of the most recent stats. I’m less interested, however, in the Apple versus Android debate, or the native app versus web app discussion. What intrigues me – and what will be increasingly important to online and mobile marketing – is device preference. As more of us find ourselves juggling laptops, smartphones and tablets, which device do we choose for which activity? The topic is gaining more scrutiny and thus yielding more data, but what remains more obscure is “why.”

My other fascination is with “dual-screening,” which is most often the act of watching television while using the internet on another device, usually to interact on Twitter or Facebook about the content being watched, but also to search for additional information.  During the election The Pew Research Center for People & The Press studied the trend during the debates, and found that fully 11% of those watching the debate live were “dual-screening.” I’ll confess to being an ardent dual-screener, though I find it hard to pay attention to live television and maintain an active Twitter stream. But put me in front of a television equipped with a DVR – and no need to stay up-to-the-minute with the program – and I’m likely to hit PAUSE on the DVR several times while I use my iPhone to pull up relevant information. (Just today: Where do I know that speaker from? Am I right about the difference between an automatic and semi-automatic weapon? 3-D printers are available for home use now? Seriously?)

The full article is linked below.  But join the conversation here: Do you prefer to handle Facebook or Twitter on your smartphone even if you’re sitting at your computer? What about reading news articles? If you have a preference, are the reasons for it obvious to you? And if, like me, you find yourself dual-screening, what are you doing? Is it a drive for more information? For social interaction?

This is an ever-changing frontier, so please – share your thoughts and experience with us!

In a New York Minute: Mobile-Device Usage Habits Changing Quickly

Valerie Sellers

Not long after ditching my (mostly) unloved Blackberry for an iPhone, I found myself answering a personal email on my iPhone while sitting at my computer. Ludicrous, I thought! I’m one-fingering it on a 3.5 inch screen while my full-sized computer and keyboard are right in front of me!

A year later, I offered a neighbor my netbook after fire destroyed much of her home. Her response? “No, I’ve got my phone. But thanks!”

It turns out my experience isn’t all that unusual. As smartphones penetrate deeper into our economy – having earlier this year passed the 50% threshold for all US mobile subscribers – and tablets become more prevalent each month, it is becoming increasingly important for marketers and content producers to understand the device preferences of their audiences. Consumers are not just showing a preference for certain devices for specific activities, but are engaging more frequently in “dual-screening.” While this normally takes the form of web surfing on one device while watching television on another, it applies to any simultaneous engagement with multiple devices, such as choosing to use your smartphone for Facebook while reading news on your tablet, or surfing the internet on your laptop. (As a matter of fact, “dual-screening” or “second-screening” involving television has become so widespread that Nielsen just announced yesterday that it has teamed up with Twitter to establish a “social TV rating” system to be available for the fall 2013 television season.) …../ continue reading

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Leave a Comment

    • Matthew
    • December 27, 2012

    I use a variety of mobile devices while a TV is on, ranging from a laptop to a tablet to a smartphone. I multitask in this way both for personal research, recreation, and misc tasks as well as for work and productivity. I DO notice that my attention given to a film or program on the television is altered and reduced based on the intensity of the task I am using a second screen for.
    Most commonly, I use my smartphone as a second screen to check and filter emails, RSS feeds, check my calendar or tasks, or play mindless games. Occasionally I will also use the phone for shopping, web browsing, etc. while using another screen, but more often I transition to the tablet or laptop with the bigger screen for those kinds of tasks.

    • Adam Thompson
    • December 19, 2012

    I usually don’t dual-screen. I usually watch TV on my laptop, so I just pause Netflix/Hulu and open a new tab if I want to check something. I think it’s important that business owners use analytics data to drive which devices they invest their time into developing apps and optimizing websites for.

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