April 10, 2014, 10:52 AM

The rise of 'the multi-platform majority'

56% of U.S. Internet users use both desktops and mobile devices to access digital content online, including e-retail sites and apps, comScore finds. A hefty majority of time spent online occurs on smartphones and tablets, a sea change from just three years ago.

Lead Photo

If an e-commerce director from 2010 could jump forward in time just three years, he wouldn't recognize web shopping, or all of the requirements of his job. In December 2010, 26.2% of time spent online occurred on smartphones and very nascent tablets; in December 2013, 56.9% of time spent online occurred on mobile devices, according to a new comScore Inc. report entitled "U.S. Digital Future in Focus 2014."

The last three years have seen the rise of what comScore calls "the multi-platform majority." Today, 56% of U.S. Internet users use both desktops and mobile devices (smartphones and/or tablets) to search the web, shop online, engage in social networking, stream video and more, comScore says. 36% only use desktops and 8% only use mobile devices.

Use of mobile devices has skyrocketed during the last three years. Time spent online on tablets has soared a startling 1,040% while time spent online on now ubiquitous smartphones has jumped 237%, comScore says. Time spent online on desktops has grown a paltry 7%.

"Mobile devices have profoundly and lastingly changed the digital media landscape, but it’s important to realize that while consumers are spending more and more time with these untethered devices, their usage has been largely incremental to desktop," the report says. "In fact, virtually all of the growth in total Internet usage over the past three years has come from usage of smartphones and tablets, which are responsible for almost doubling the amount of time Americans spend online."

Today, 65% ofU.S.consumers 13 and older use smartphones and 34% use tablets, comScore says. 51% of smartphones run the Android mobile operating system from Google Inc., 42% are iPhones running iOS from Apple Inc., and 7% run  mobile operating systems from BlackBerry, Microsoft Windows and others, comScore reports.

In the online shopping realm, while most digital commerce spending still occurs on desktops, mobile is accounting for an increasingly meaningful percentage (10.5% in 2013) and is growing at significantly faster rates (23%), comScore says. Currently mobile commerce is driven predominantly by smartphones, which accounted for 7% of total online spending last year, while tablets contributed the remaining 3.5%. The fact that smartphones drive a greater overall percentage of dollars is a function of higher device penetration; tablets boast higher spending on a per-user basis, comScore finds.

Social media venues are hotbeds of mobile activity. 68% of time spent with Facebook occurs on mobile devices, Twitter 86%, Instagram 98%, Pinterest 92%, Tumblr 46%, Vine 99% and Snapchat 100%, comScore finds.

"These profound shifts are changing the complexion of the present landscape and radically altering what tomorrow will look like," the comScore report concludes. "Consumer behavior is evolving as fast as new technologies are emerging, and it is a never-ending challenge for both marketers and companies to adapt to the present realities, but they must always do so with one eye focused on the future to ensure they invest their resources wisely."

The explosion of mobile devices is enabling online content consumption and web shopping on a scale never seen before, which promises new opportunities for those companies that are adept at navigating this new terrain, comScore says.

The comScore report, "U.S. Digital Future in Focus 2014," is based on data compiled from the measurement firm's MobiLens and TabLens panels, each with 30,000 U.S.device users, the Media Metrix panel of 1 million U.S. consumers, and the e-commerce/m-commerce panel of 1 million U.S. online consumers.

comments powered by Disqus




From The IR Blog


Philip Masiello / E-Commerce

3 reasons retailers fall short in email and social marketing

Reason one: They’re constantly trying to sell their customer, rather than to help and engage ...


Rotem Gal / E-Commerce

7 surprising e-commerce trends for 2017

Consumers will engage with products and brands in new ways online in the year ahead.

Research Guides