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Smartphones: the silent killers of the web, as we know it

09 May 2014 / 13:05:10  GRReporter
2770 reads

Ivan Petkov

In recent years, there has been constant talk about the "post-PC" era that ousts PCs at the expense of other "smart" handheld devices. The fact is that the number of smartphones and tablets sold is growing very rapidly while the number of PCs sold is declining each year.

The reasons for this are many and complex. We informed you about the difficulties faced by, and the reforms carried out, in the software giant Microsoft, the operating system of which is used by 90% of PCs. We wrote about the rise of Apple and Google as well as about handheld devices. All these are interesting and new gadgets that attract not only the attention of users, but also their money.

Tablets are slowing down their growth

Tablets are devices, which are basically defined as the "killers" of traditional PCs as they combine the convenience of portable devices with a relatively large and comfortable screen on which users can use their fingers in the most natural way in order to interact with it. Major players such as Apple, Microsoft and Google invested much effort into establishing their tablets in the market.

The growth curve of tablet supplies has been incredibly steep over the past years. At the same time, the use of tablets by different age groups has proved to be unexpected. The results of two surveys conducted by Pew Research clearly show this trend too:

16% of the 15-20 age group use tablets

18% of the 21-29 age group use tablets

25% of the 30-55 age group use tablets
 
We are accustomed to the opposite trend, namely that the group of the youngest users responds with the greatest enthusiasm and willingness to use new technologies, as, conservatism increases with age and people are not inclined to part with their habits and to test new devices. Why is this not the case? Maybe it is because the middle-aged generation perceives tablets as a natural extension of PCs. Moreover, we must not forget that a teenager often has a limited budget and often has to choose between a tablet and smartphone, the latter being the winner as parents usually want to have constant contact with their child, which tablets cannot provide. Last but not least, although they are great devices in terms of receiving all kinds of multimedia information and content, tablets are not suitable for taking notes, doing homework and creating content in general, which are typical activities for pupils and students. Maybe they can be used as a kind of universal textbook, but that is another topic.

Last but not least, this year Apple reported a slowdown in iPad sales for the first time since its appearance. The trend may be due to market saturation and we may witness a slowdown in the spread of these mobile devices. Meanwhile, iPhone sales are continuing to grow:

Changing Internet

The growing market share of tablets supported by the middle-aged generation of users shows an interesting trend. There are two different worlds on the web that cannot be seen on the surface. Middle-aged users usually interact with the Internet primarily through a browser and email client - these generations are accustomed to visiting websites and using search engines to find and reach the desired content, and to interact with others. The group of users aged over 30 grew up with the familiar mail client; they use internet forums, chat rooms and all this thanks to a single program, the web browser that acts as a universal window to the digital world. The tablet, with its larger screen, is the ideal device to serve as a natural extension of this model.

For the younger generation, the Internet means hundreds of small applications with a single purpose, which work flawlessly together. Young people are growing up with the mobile phone as their primary device and this fundamentally changes the way they perceive and use the Internet.

Let us look again at the data. According to Pew Research, 74% of teenagers use the Internet through their phones. The percentage of users who connect to the global network mainly through their smartphones is increasing as well. In addition to the purely financial reason, teenagers do not use tablets en masse, as they do not find them necessary as devices to access the Internet. For them smartphone applications are the way to access the information they need and the means to communicate with friends. They grew up without actively using a laptop and web browser, which they associate with studies and obligations. They however associate the access to a website with the use of an application that displays its contents in a convenient and well-arranged manner.

Big companies are starting to notice this trend and to quickly adapt to a world where a mobile application does only one thing but does it well, being able to interact with other applications at the same time.

Facebook was one of the first companies that started to focus on its mobile application, which in turn gradually started living its own life. It has recently separated the chat application functionality, which is used to exchange messages and very soon, Facebook application will not support it. Therefore, we will have to install a separate application called Facebook Messenger. The company has also released a new application called Paper as well as Instagram and WhatsApp, which it has recently purchased.

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