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The death of the desktop

By EMMA COAKES Published 7th Apr 2014
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In January 2014 Americans used smartphone and tablet apps more than desktops to access the Internet. This is the first time that this has happened. Mobile usage has exceeded desktop usage before, but this is the first time that it has happened for app usage alone.

PC sales have been declining since the first quarter of 2012, which was the last time that the sector had seen positive sales growth. Since then it has seen a massive decline, recently hitting double figure percentages in each quarter.

None of this will be a huge surprise for anyone in marketing. The smartphone experience is often not ideal, the screen is just too small, however tablets have changed the game completely, particularly given their affordability.

So, we should all make sure that our websites work across multiple platforms. That's just common sense. However, before we write off the PC completely it's worth thinking about what you are selling and to whom. In some situations the majority of searches will still be executed on a desktop.

One example is the corporate market. If you are selling to a predominantly office based sector then your stats will be telling you that as much as 80% of your searches are coming from desktops. The corporate market likes to retain a level of control and that is why in situ company machines remain popular in large offices. This may change as Generation Y takes over from Generation X and desktops are replaced with hot desks and personal devices. However, for now, the most common corporate scenario is a large office with people sitting at desks with a desktop computer.

So, things are changing and in certain sectors mobile devices have taken over and will continue to do so.

One of the leading areas of growth is in branded apps. 26% of internet searches now take place through these instead of through a search engine. For example, if you were looking for a house you might search through a Rightmove app instead of through Google. These niche search apps are a huge opportunity for individual businesses while also being, collectively, a huge threat to search engines. It is these very commercial searches where the money is made.

In conclusion it is evident that mobile search is taking over, although the speed at which this is happening will vary in different markets. The future may belong to branded apps and this is where the opportunity lies. Is there a branded app covering your industry?

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185 weeks ago, by Tim
Interesting Emmy. I love sitting at my desk with my office desktop. I've never had a tablet and have no plans. Two laptops at home [Windows and Macbook] covers what I need and the iPhone has been coming under attack from Samsung for a good few years now, but those Galaxies are just too large for my liking.
185 weeks ago, by James
I prefer to work on a double screen desktop. No comparison to anything else, except perhaps a triple screen or full wall James Bond villain set up.
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