For countless companies active online, the ever-increasing importance of mobile is no surprise. It's seen every day in the growing amount of traffic their websites receive from users on mobile and tablet devices.

The big question: what activities previously performed on the PC are being shifted to these devices?

According to a study conducted by The NPD Group, the answer to that question is web browsing and Facebook. More than 20% of those polled by The NPD Group indicated that they're surfing the web and using Facebook less on their PCs because they're engaging in those activities on their smartphones and tablets instead.

Don't count the PC out yet

The shift from the PC to mobile and tablet devices is obviously very real, and meaningful, particularly in the case of Facebook, which is seeing the gap between PC users and smartphone users narrow.

But it would be premature to write off the PC as a thing of the past. As The NPD Group notes, "consumers are still using their computers for many of the core PC-centric activities." 73% of PC owners still use their PCs to browse the internet, for instance, compared to 61% and 53% for smartphones and tablets, respectively. So there's still a huge market for serving consumers accessing the internet through a desktop experience, something that even the most mobile-savvy and mobile-centric companies are clearly aware of.

Serving consumers wherever they are

Consumer behavior is, of course, inherently difficult to predict. While it seems all but certain that consumers will continue to increase their non-PC engagement with online services, it's too soon to make assumptions about specifics. On this point, it's worth noting that 21% of consumers have an internet-connected television, and The NPD Group says that more and more of these consumers are using those televisions to consume content from services like Netflix and Hulu.

So how should businesses react to these shifts and plan for the future? First, it's important for each company to evaluate their specific audiences and how their consumption habits are changing. As John Buffone of The NPD Group observed, "Despite these shifts in behavior, computers will remain the fundamental content creation device in consumer’s tool box for many years to come. Consumers, however, are switching their entertainment-centric behaviors to tablets, smartphones, and connected TVs at warp speed."

The key take-away: some kinds of businesses will be affected more than others, sooner than others. But all businesses should recognize the fact that they're operating in a multi-device, multi-platform world, and to maximize the value received from each customer relationship, experiences across numerous devices and platforms will be required.

Patricio Robles

Published 8 February, 2013 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (4)


Paul Profitt

Hi Patricio, I love using my PC more than my smart phone because it has a far more reliable Internet connection.

And until Apple and the other major players in the mobile phones industry find a way to increase the battery life of these devices. People will continue to use their PC for many years to come.

over 5 years ago



I seem mobile marketing is a most safest way for both mobile users and mobile marketer. A most big advantage of mobile marketing is that i saves marketer's valuable time and get a quick result. In mobile marketing there are mobile message recipient does not stop any kind of service at a time so if he likes or does not like that advertisement he will sure give answer immediately.

over 5 years ago


Peer Lawther

Surprised it's not mentioned in the article but one of the major shifts with the move from PC to tablet/mobile is email.

A few years ago email was seen, while not dead and buried, as mortally wounded by social media. Last month, for the first time, our email newsletter was opened more on tablet/mobile than desktop (52%/48%) and is going from strength to strength. Mobile/tablet has revolutionised email.

For us it means that consumer behaviour on the website (as well as email design of course) has to be informed by the sheer number of clicks from mobile/tablets.

over 5 years ago

Jonathan Kay

Jonathan Kay, Managing Director at 120 Feet

I would happily ditch a PC when a tablet has enough computing power to mean that I can work from it running memory and processor hungry tasks with ease. Currently I use a smart phone, tablet and laptop so it would be great to have 1 less device to sync / maintain.

Ideally, it should be the same size as the current iPad / Slate with 256gb (or more) SSD, quad processor, 16gb ram and able to run a full operating system. Basically, I need a comparable spec to my 15” Mac Book Pro Retina but ideally running Windows (as most of the business world [currently] uses Office for PC and Mac Office is hopeless).

It will be essential to have great connectivity so that I can connect it to my TV, desktop monitor, keyword, mouse, AV Amp, NAS etc with ease. This means Bluetooth, wifi and in some cases wired for fast data transfer (my wifi runs approx 50% slower than ethernet) so I’ll need a few Thunderbolt sockets.

A battery life comparable with today’s iPad would be fine for running in a ‘light’ OS mode for web browsing, apps etc. For heavy business use I’d expect to have to connect via power cable.

I guess this will be circa 2-3 years away and I’d be willing to spend up to £2,000 on such a device.

Not many people / business will fit with the above requirement due to cost. But Moore's Law suggests it will be achievable at a reasonable price point in perhaps 5-10 years’ time.

over 5 years ago

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