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comScore: Data Suggests U.S. Desktop Use Has Passed Its Peak and Now Declining

     
5:05 pm on Apr 16, 2016 (gmt 0)

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The data from comScore usually shows patterns that help forward thinking marketers, so this latest indicator is particularly telling. Its suggested that desktop use has passed its peak and is now declining. If it were just one month you'd just put it down to abberations, but, as it appears to show a trend, it should be noticed.

What do your stats indicate?

Data from the research company indicate overall time spent online in the U.S. from desktop devices—which include laptop computers—has fallen for the past four months, on a year-over-year basis. It dipped 9.3% in December 2015, 7.6% in January, 2% in February and 6% in March. comScore: Data Suggests U.S. Desktop Use Has Passed Its Peak and Now Declining [wsj.com]


https://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/BN-NO387_cmocom_M_20160414180020.jpg
5:48 pm on Apr 18, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Interesting statistics...I know I'm older but I just don't see how people can purchase from their phones. So much room on a desktop to research - open multiple windows, etc. Purchasing on a phone or tablet is a nightmare for me - so much easier via desktop.
6:58 pm on Apr 18, 2016 (gmt 0)

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None of these numbers include boutique brands... just the plain old dell, HP, etc

I can't keep a gaming build on my bench for longer then a few days.
6:59 pm on Apr 18, 2016 (gmt 0)

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You know, for a group (webdevs) that tend to utilise various analytics programs daily you'd think the statistics hogwash being passed in that piece would cause laughter not consideration.


It dipped 9.3% in December 2015, 7.6% in January, 2% in February and 6% in March

The above quote makes it look as if there is a concatenation of dipping. Actually what it shows is that time online via desktop in:
* December 2015 was 9.3% below that of December 2014 which was about that same 9% ABOVE the ?arbitrary benchmark? of April 2014;
* January 2016 was 7.6% below that of January 2015 which had been over 10% ABOVE April 2014;
* February 2016 was 2% below that of February 2015 which had been 8% ABOVE April 2014;
* March 2016 was 6% below that of March 2015 which had been 13% ABOVE April 2014.
So we have a fluctuation above and below an arbitrary benchmark without a longer history for context. The shown wave decrease following an increase following a decrease following who knows is indicative of...not very much.

Of course what we have is a reporter paraphrasing a report that itself is slanted as consisting of insufficient data.
SNAFU.
comScore reports are indicators worth noting as engine mentions but I don't see an actual downward pattern as implied by title and graph. I do see a definite fluctuating plateau but, given the available data, that is all.

Most reporters (and marketers) should not be allowed near stats. I see the above as a consequence of both: comScore marketers put a spicy spin on bland nada and sold it to a WSJ reporter (whenever tech news is released via mainstream media look for the marketer behind the curtain) whose article was apparently taken up as 'news' by just about every web publication.
Congrats to comScore, shame on everyone else.
8:12 pm on Apr 18, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Good info iamlost - I have so much going on that I did not take time to analyze my own stats - look around at other articles, etc.

Whenever news articles come out I almost always ignore the article itself and just read the comments to see what others have to say about the article.
8:22 pm on Apr 18, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Every year we get some kind of "death of the desktop" story.
10:43 pm on Apr 18, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I see plenty of desktop activity during the work week, but overwhelming mobile on weekends. I attribute this to workers browsing from their work computers but when at home they use tablets & phones. I've seen stats showing a decline in desktop computer sales in the public & edu sectors, so likely fewer computers at home nowadays.

As for sales, I still see most from desktop even though I've gone to great effort to accommodate a succinct mobile purchase experience. However sales coming through Social Media show a significant advantage with mobile.
10:48 pm on Apr 18, 2016 (gmt 0)

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The chart doesn't look too convincing. What caused the bigger increases in 2015?

If those were some sort of anomaly, then what's happening in 2016 is merely a return to normal.

However, I expect a gradual decline in desktop use in future, as the more frivolous stuff is as easily done on mobiles. I wouldn't however conclude that business use will decline as quickly as all minutes, until I see more convincing evidence.
10:49 pm on Apr 18, 2016 (gmt 0)

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There is a definite uptake in mobile devices (phone or tablet) that will surely have some impact in general stats. But the death of the PC is a bit premature and, as noted above, merely indicates that PCs are used at desks (office or home) and mobile is used everywhere else.

For any of the above to make any sense you compare TRAFFIC YTY ... that's the number we all should track!
11:40 pm on Apr 18, 2016 (gmt 0)

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what is true is that in the recent years the increase in overall time spent on the internet is due mainly to a strong increase in smartphone usage. but what is worth noting is that unlike media wants us to believe, there is no trade-off: desktop/laptop usage did not decrease at the expense of smartphone usage. instead, usage of new smartphone-like devices came on top of the online time per day already spent with established devices.

as ever with those misleading stats there is an agenda: cui bono?

first of all, why this strange aggregation of desktop and laptop? i for one have no desktop since 10 years, i do everything from my laptop. my laptop is also a quite compact mobile device (subnotebook), i can take it anywhere with me.
in a world with thousands of different devices in all sizes and shapes, why do they have to distinguish between laptop and smartphone/tablet at all? if anything, it would make more sense to distinguish technically between stationary and mobile devices or keyboard and touch devices.

i believe that the concerted massive web media hype around "going mobile" and "mobile first" in the recent years is due solely to get new business for the involved parties in this sector.
12:51 am on Apr 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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desktop/laptop usage did not decrease at the expense of smartphone usage. instead, usage of new smartphone-like devices came on top of the online time per day already spent with established devices.
My server access logs disagree with that statement.
1:02 am on Apr 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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My server access logs disagree with that statement.

My logs show that some who once were exclusive desktop are more and more using mobile tech. I've asked a few users if that was true and the answer was "yes".

I suspect that more time on web is done mobile for these folks than the desktop, but all, so far, have indicated they still do the desktop, but instead of buying the next best PC, because they are happy with the one they have, they have gone mobile (tablets mostly).
1:04 am on Apr 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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@tangor - agree
2:07 pm on Apr 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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To me mobile devices are pushed and pushed because they are a little hand held walled garden. Using your google device, with the google store, with the google apps...... yea "app for that"
They've got you... its almost AOL like, the real full power of the internet is being walled off and hidden.

Remember when you took an AOL user to a search engine? they were lost, they had no idea all this "internet" was out there.

Tabs, phones, they are little AOL boxes to dumb people down and keep them in the garden.

But if your internet usage is nothing but facebook, instagram, and blah blah b/s sure a phone or tab will work for you just fine.... these are the modern day AOL users. "customer first" you being the source of $$$$$ to drain.
9:59 pm on Apr 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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The mobile phone is the poor man's computer. Given a choice between the two, the desktop is the hands-down favorite for speed and ease of use. The manufacturers of cell phone can make that screen just so large unless they can figure out how to have a holograph pop out of it.

Long live the desktop computer!
10:27 pm on Apr 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I quickly checked about a dozen website I can see stats on. Desktop users were a high of 61 percent and a low of 44 percent. (The low two were restaurant sites.) Then I looked at the historical data going back 24 months, taking a core sample here and there. The trend is clear as more users are moving to tablets and mobile, but it's slow trend. So, I agree with tangor. (The demographics on these sites, with a few exception, skew older, 50+). I don't think there is any surprise here: Your website has to be mobile now.
2:19 am on Apr 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Mobile Is Not Destroying Desktop Traffic [webmasterworld.com]

So much for that. And what is meant with mobile anyway? 10 inch subnotebook, is it mobile? 10 inch tablet with keyboard, is it mobile? As I see it, the first is lumped together with desktop devices, the second with smartphones. Why? Because one runs on Windows and the other on Android? That's a rubbish distinction. Mobile must be defined by use of the device, not by use of OS. And then the stats are skewed anyhow.

Who is on a real desktop machine these days anyways besides old people and gamers? People have laptops. So people are going to substitute their laptops with smartphones? No, they won't. Because these are unusable for many tasks. Watch your own habits.

To me mobile devices are pushed and pushed because they are a little hand held walled garden.

Exactly. So what is the message here? The message is: Everyone go mobile, because that is the future. Also, right on the money, because as has been said, people rather buy new mobile devices to show off than a new PC. Mobile is equated with Android and iOS. So follow us to the walled garden of native apps (euphemism!) and proprietary app stores. Media further digging their own grave by cheering this trend for short-term profit.
9:45 pm on Apr 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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instead of buying the next best PC, because they are happy with the one they have, they have gone mobile


Exactly, PCs are now very mature for many use scenarios. 5yo hardware and software on Win7 will do a lot for the average consumer user. Mobile devices otoh are still a new breed, so there are still likely to be real reasons for needing to upgrade regularly. There is also a growing number of mobile devices competing for your cash--wrist strapped, ankle strapped etc.

The walled garden mentioned is why Microsoft is pushing Win10 so hard. They can't afford to be locked out of this goldmine, and their best chance of a successful catch-up is the 'all devices' approach of Win10--none of the other players can match MS's breadth of devices covered.
11:45 pm on Apr 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Who is on a real desktop machine these days anyways besides old people and gamers?

Oi. Who you calling old? Sitting at the computer desk is better for my back than whatever seating/lying configuration I'd use with a mobile, and it's harder for the cat to block the screen.

A laptop, for me, is the worst of both worlds: too heavy to lug around conveniently, uncomfortable in my lap-- and still too small to do anything useful.

I don't think I'll ever view tablets as anything other than The Toy, which is what I call my iPad. I use it for playing sudoku, which remains the only function I've found where a touch screen is actively superior rather than an awkward compromise. Browsing with anything less than a full computer essentially restricts you to following links or using established bookmarks, because typing is more trouble than it's worth.

Phone? If you use it for anything more than looking up the nearest restaurant, it's only because you don't have internet.
12:06 am on Apr 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

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because typing is more trouble than it's worth.

My view as well but having watched the flashing thumbs of a friend 30 years my junior I suspect that she could get pretty close to my touch typing speed!
7:51 pm on Apr 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Who is on a real desktop machine these days anyways besides old people and gamers?


better keyboards, better pointing devices, larger screens, multiple screens, cheaper hardware, cheaper upgrades, speed speed speed.
11:07 pm on Apr 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Who is on a real desktop machine these days anyways besides old people and gamers? People have laptops. So people are going to substitute their laptops with smartphones? No, they won't. Because these are unusable for many tasks. Watch your own habits.
Looks like you struck a nerve with that statement :)

What you say about phones applies to laptops too, just to a lesser degree. I had a good laptop for a couple of years recently, but was very happy to pass it on and build a desktop once my rambling was done. Even while laptopping, I had it rigged as a desktop replacement as often as I could.

You can't beat a desktop for productivity. 2-3 large monitors, full-sized and full-featured [ie programmable] keyboard and mouse, better hardware for the same money, much more customizable to suit your needs. If you don't need mobility, a laptop is no match for getting quality work done quickly.
1:24 am on Apr 22, 2016 (gmt 0)

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What one person calls work another might call play. But the majority of those on the web don't do work. They are consumers, not workers. :)
9:51 am on Apr 22, 2016 (gmt 0)

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There are a number of functions that cannot be carried out on a phone/tablet, and that is unlikely to change. The vast majority of people don't need those functions as what they do is e-mail and social media, which can be done from a phone/tablet. Not that long ago homes had one desktop and possible a laptop in the home. Now they have smarphones and tablet computers and find they are using that to a much greater extent because of the convenience. A cheap tablet computer can come in at well under $100, and that means everyone in the family can have one. They can play games, e-mail, share on social media, etc.
Business, however, still needs computing power (screens, keyboards, mouse connectivity, processing, backups). How can a webmaster, for example, truly manage a site on a tablet computer! Of course, there are some things that can be done on the tablet computer, but not the vast majority of functions.
1:06 am on Apr 23, 2016 (gmt 0)

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^ I've often found it strange that the large majority around here seem fine with a laptop and a smart phone.

Am I doing the wrong kinda work? lol
8:39 pm on Apr 23, 2016 (gmt 0)

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For what I do a highish spec laptop gives me all the processing power I need. I can just about get by without going to the trouble of connecting the nice flat screen from my old desktop but I do need a proper keyboard.
9:24 pm on Apr 23, 2016 (gmt 0)

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The mobile phone is the poor man's computer.


Exactly -- No power, no speed, no storage -- drop a couple of hundred bucks a month to your wireless phone plan for data and you're sure to stay broke too.

The cloud had to be written with all of those poor wireless phone sops in mind because I mean really, where are they supposed to store all of that yickety-yack they do all day on their phone ... right?

In the meantime, those of us with any brains love the power, the speed, and the local storage that a PC or Laptop might offer -- We'll still be enjoying "all" that the net has to offer while we quietly laugh to ourselves all the way to the bank --
9:29 pm on Apr 23, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Who is on a real desktop machine these days anyways besides old people and gamers?


Seriously? ... Over here in Seattle there are plenty of 20-somethings toting laptops around with processors bigger than a full moon. Anyone in the WebDev industry has a box - Youngsters that are worth their salt all have real Desktops - You can't do the work unless you've got the right tools.
7:31 am on Apr 24, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Even pros don't properly understand that a high end mobile processor, can't even sit at the same table as a lower end desktop chip.
laptops have been choked and gagged under "battery battery battery battery" thin, low watt, low heat...offend no one...be nice...sunshine rainbows.

Meanwhile intel sells single CHIPS that cost as much as a high end laptop and AMD is selling chips that require a custom water cooling loop out of the box....that will probably dim the lights in your house.
4:18 pm on Apr 25, 2016 (gmt 0)

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@moTi
That post you cite was pretty much data from a year ago, and desktop was pretty strong at that time. It appeared to make a decline after that point.

Interestingly, here are some dates that might also tie in, or not.
Windows 10 launched July 29 2015 in 190 markets globally. Look at the stats on the chart in the original post. Could it be possible that people decided at that time to stay with their current desktop but found the allure of a tablet computer too great. It's no wonder that Microsoft decided to offer Windows 10 upgrade for free if it's been watching the stats, which i'm sure it has.
According to other publicly available stats, Desktop sales started a decline in 2015, with laptops holding steady, and mobile increasing significantly in 2015.

It was all writing on the wall for some time and there's been enough commentary around to back that up.

Mobile is usually classed as smartphones, tablets and laptops capable of being used on-the-go. Desktops are usually exactly that: A device that is fixed in position and features larger screens. It can be iOS, Windows or Linux.

As a mass user device desktops have lost favour to smartphones, tablets, dumb laptops, and laptops.
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