Technalysis Research
Previous Blogs

April 29, 2014
The Next Smartphone Battleground: Durability

April 22, 2014
BYOD: A Work in Progress

April 18, 2014
Insider Extra: AMD Back in the Groove

April 15, 2014
The Mobility Myth

April 9, 2014
BYOD Dilemma: Devices vs. Data

April 8, 2014
Insider Extra: Qualcomm's Evolving Story

April 1, 2014
A Wearables Forecast

March 25, 2014
Measuring Success in Wearables? It's Thousands of Thousands

March 24, 2014
Insider Extra: Intel Strategy Moves Forward

March 18, 2014
IOT: Islands of Isolated Things?

March 11, 2014
Wearables Cautionary Tale

March 4, 2014
The New Platform Battle

February 25, 2014
Watch What Happens

February 18, 2014
Talkin' 'bout Touchpads

February 11, 2014
The MultiOS Conundrum

February 4, 2014
Computing Redefined

January 28, 2014
The Apple Problem

January 21, 2014
The 2-in-1s People Might Want

January 14, 2014
The Post Tablet Era

January 7, 2014
The Innovation Asymptote

December 31, 2013
Top 5 2014 Predictions

December 17, 2013
Holiday Shoppers Gifting Themselves

December 10, 2013
Companion Apps

December 3, 2013
Aisle Check

TECHnalysis Research Blog

May 6, 2014
Device Usage a Question of Degree

The seemingly incessant discussions about which device is “winning” the battle for the heart and mind of the user all seem to ignore an important, if not particularly helpful, fact: they all are winning to various degrees. Generally speaking, people tend to use multiple devices, sometimes even for the same task. Of course, it depends on what devices they actually own, but people who have regular access to PCs, tablets and smartphones—like many individuals in the US—are likely to use PCs, tablets and smartphones.

The amount that they use each device, however, does vary and, in most cases, by a relatively large amount. Here, of course, is where the nearly religious debates about the superiority of tablets over PCs, or smartphones over tablets, or “phablets” versus everything else, will continue to rage. But regardless of what group (or groups) people tend to fall into on these discussions, the fact that people use multiple devices has important implications for both the hardware and the applications and services running on those devices.

Building devices, applications and services that are not just able to connect to and work with other devices (and services) but are actually optimized to do so is an important distinction that many companies seem to either ignore or pay little attention to. Wouldn’t it be nice, for example, if any type of process I start on one device could be seamlessly continued on another one?

The situation is complicated when we start to consider the different platforms on which all of these devices run. In the recent BYOD survey my firm conducted of 750 workers in the US, 450 of whom were employees at small, medium and large companies, we asked about the platforms they used on their devices. The results confirmed my expectations: the most popular PC platform in use was Windows by a large margin, the most popular tablet OS was iOS and the most common smartphone platform was—you guessed it—Android. (FYI, on both tablets and smartphones, the leading platforms had just over 50% of the total.) Extrapolating that data means there are lots of people with devices running three different platforms, from three different companies, yet we’ve seen few efforts from any of those vendors to even acknowledge this reality, let alone incorporate it into their products and services to try and make them better.

The “right” device also depends on what it is that people are trying to achieve. But even here, crossover between devices is greater than many are willing to acknowledge. Think about something as universal as e-mail, for example. We can all certainly read e-mail on whatever screen happens to be convenient, but when it comes to responding to e-mail, the device on which we choose to compose our missives is often strongly influenced by the amount we need to write. A quick short response can be done on a small phone screen, a slightly longer reply on a tablet but a longer discussion almost always falls to a PC with a full-sized keyboard and larger screen. So, all the devices are used for the same task, but each to different degrees. And, it’s not just e-mail. From watching videos of different lengths—generally the longer the video, the larger the screen—to researching information on various topics—the deeper the dive, the greater the need for multiple simultaneously open windows, etc., many tasks are divided across our different available devices.

A select group of software vendors and services providers have started to fully embrace this multi-device, multi-platform reality, but I would argue there’s still a long way to go. As new types of devices, like smart TVs, connected cars and wearables, start to play a larger role in people’s lives and as our dependence on the services that empower these devices continues to grow, the need to create products and services that embrace the diversity of the device landscape will become essential for future success.

Here's a link to the original column:

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