Mobile Isn’t Killing the Desktop Internet
People are increasingly accessing online content on mobile devices,
but that doesn’t mean the desktop is in decline.
A theory sometimes bandied about the media industry says audiences are
deserting desktops and “going mobile” instead. But actually, data from
online measurement firms doesn’t seem to support that view, at least
at the aggregate market level.
The share of overall consumption coming from mobile devices is
growing, but desktop web usage isn’t dropping. In fact, it might be
According to data from comScore, for example, the overall time spent
online with desktop devices in the U.S. has remained relatively stable
for the past two years. Time spent with mobile devices has grown
rapidly in that time, but the numbers suggest mobile use is adding to
desktop use, not subtracting from it.
“The key thing to remember is that percentages are not zero-sum,” said
Tony Haile, CEO of online analytics firm Chartbeat. “You can have
mobile growing to 50% of your traffic and desktop traffic remaining
According to Mr. Haile, mobile devices are actually “unlocking” new
Web time in the morning and the evening, while desktop traffic remains
dominant during weekdays.
In other words: mobile’s share of traffic is growing, but the overall
pie is growing too.
That understanding has important implications for media owners and
marketers, who often say they’re altering their sites and strategies
to cater for their growing mobile audiences. It makes sense to
optimize for mobile if that’s a large and growing audience, but mobile
isn’t the only game in town. In fact, it seems desktop Internet use is
here to stay, for the time being at least.