This comes from a new multi-device study, conducted by Facebook in collaboration with GfK, revealing people’s behaviour when it comes to moving across devices (smartphone, tablet and desktop) on a day-to-day basis.

It’s becoming increasingly common practice to switch to a different device, even though we may have started a task on a different one all together.

While sat at home, it’s far easier to research a product we’ve seen on television via the smartphone that’s sat within arm’s reach, than it is to walk ALL the way to another room to fire up a desktop computer and wait minutes for it to boot up. It’s a wonder we ever bought anything online before the advent of smartphones.

However for the actual purchase or completion of more seemingly complicated task, we prefer a larger screen and therefore we’re more likely to finish the task on a tablet, laptop or desktop computer.

Here are some more stats from the study, plus bonus 'real-life' photographic examples of multi-device use.

Multi-device switching

In the UK, more than 60% of online adults use at least two devices every day and nearly 25% use three devices.

  • 40% of all online adults start an activity on one device and finish it on another.
  • This number increases with the amount of devices owned: 54% of people who own two devices switch between them to complete tasks or activities and 73% of people who have three devices do the same.
  • Among those who switched devices in the study, 25% switched to a tablet and 60% switched to a laptop.

Here we see a young couple using multiple devices to cheat at crosswords...

multi device couple

Favoured device by activity

Communication: 77% of adults who own a smartphone use it while they are out and about. It’s used mainly for communication and social activity.

Productivity: 86% of online adults use a laptop or desktop at home. It is considered the ‘workhorse’ and is dedicated to tasks like managing finances.

Entertainment: 50% of tablets are shared amongst family members. It’s considered as the ‘entertainment hub’.

However despite this, the smartphone is considered the dominant ‘go-to’ device. It’s the only device used throughout the entire day.

Even whilst hiding from velociraptors in the canteen...

kitchen multi-device users

People are 10 times more likely to use their smartphone on public transport than their laptop and three times more likely than their tablet.

In an unsurprising revelation in a report commissioned by Facebook, it has been found that Facebook and email are the activities most likely to take place across multiple devices.

Here’s a picture of a man enjoying Facebook on his mobile whilst at work surrounded by computers from which he could easily access the social network on. Perhaps Facebook is blocked in his office...

Comfort and convenience in from using a larger screen and easier typing are the main reasons people switch devices mid-activity. The urgency of the task, the length of time involved, security & privacy concerns and the level of detail required are also key considerations.


It is an absolute necessity for all brands, companies and retailers to keep the online journey as fluid and consistent as possible for customers. 

If I'm browsing and adding to a cart on my smartphone, I expect that same history and half-filled shopping basket to be carried across to the desktop site, and vice versa.

It's the only way to guarantee customer satisfaction, aid conversion and encourage return visits.

For more on multi-device usage from the blog, check out David Moth’s report on how lack of tracking and common metrics are seen as the main barriers to multiscreen ad campaigns.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 7 March, 2014 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Comments (3)



So fairly obvious right? If we have more devices we switch... what is more interesting is the "why?".

I've got some theories, but anyone point me to some good research?

over 4 years ago



Does this mean we should take unique user reports with a pinch of salt? If 40% are multi-device users, does that mean uniques are 40% higher than they should be?

over 4 years ago


Andy Brattle

I wonder if the study considered how well the website performed on different devices, and whether that could have affected somebody's decision to continue the user journey from mobile to desktop or vice versa.

over 4 years ago

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