Smartphones were first introduced to the public back in 2007. Since the first shiny iPhone hit the UK shelves there has been a steady increase in people accessing the internet on these devices. On the flip side, people have been accessing the internet less and less through desktop devices.

The graph below shows this trend.

 

 

Mobile access the internet soared and made history in October 2019. For the first time, in the UK, more people were browsing online using their mobile than on their desktop. This reached an all-time high in the UK in April 2020 with 53.97% of people browsing the internet on mobile vs desktop. 

This, however, didn’t last for long. On the other side of the world, something was brewing that would change the behaviour of internet users all over the UK. Covid-19 caused the UK to go into lockdown at the end of March. Suddenly the majority of the UK was working from home so there was no more commuting. The roads were quiet, the trains and buses rattled along with no passengers and cities became ghost towns. People were no longer able to roam the streets so no longer needed roaming data. By July 2020 internet usage on smartphones had slumped to 48.25% and desktop had overtaken mobile once again.

 

 

There are many reasons why more people were now back on their desktops. People were no longer playing candy crush on their morning commute, no longer using google maps to find a new restaurant while out and about. There was no more checking in at airports to let their friends know they’re on their way to Alicante. 

Most of the people in the UK were now confined to their house. Office workers now worked from their kitchen tables, bedrooms became boardrooms and users were spending more time online on their desktops. Even though people were working on their desktops from home they would normally be doing this anyway except in the office. So what could be influencing this change in behaviour?

Well, if you’re anything like me, when I get home from work and I want to do some online shopping or watch a quick youtube video I can’t be bothered to get my laptop out of its case and wait for it to start up. However, if my laptop is already out and switched on I’d be much more likely to hop on that to browse online. This behaviour change could be driving the increase in desktop usage. Another factor could be that people who didn’t previously own a desktop now had a work computer that they were able to access any time from home.

In a survey MarketingWeek conducted with over 3,000 members of the Influencer community, 41% of respondents answered that they were “currently shopping online for things they would normally shop for in-store.” As this was an unfamiliar experience to these people they may have wanted to use a laptop for what to them was a more complex experience. 

But before you go throwing away your mobile-optimised websites current usage, as the UK opens up, data shows mobile and desktop usage is 50/50 with an upward trend for mobile. While desktop usage was higher than mobile in July mobile usage for July was still up on the year before from 46.48% in 2019 to 48.25% so was up by 1.77% on the year before.

With people switching from desktop to mobile and vice versa there’s an evergrowing need to seamlessly combine the two experiences. Apple had begun this continuity with ‘Handoff’ which allows users to start one task on their mobile and finish it on their desktop. Currently, this is supported in a range of applications such as Mail, Maps, Safari, Calendar, and a growing list of third-party apps. This is built into the operating system of Apple devices. Chrome offers tab syncing and Windows has ‘Continue on PC’ which is device agnostic but does require installation. 

There are other options out there. Take eclipse’s AR solution ARES for example. It’s great viewing a 3D model of a product on a desktop browser but the experience comes to life when it is seen through the lens of a mobile camera in your surroundings. This requires users to switch to a mobile device and how that transition is handled is becoming increasingly important. With ARES you can scan an on-screen QR code with your mobile and that will take you to the augmented reality view of the product. This is where you will be able to see the product in your home.

As the UK comes out of lockdown smartphones are being put to use in new ways. Such as, scanning QR codes to check-in at restaurants for track and trace and to view the menu at bars where paper ones have been scrapped. Now more than ever your business needs to be adaptive to these changes and your website ready for anything. Drop us a line if you’d like a little help – we’d love to talk to you.