Technalysis Research
Previous Blogs

October 14, 2014
Insider Extra: Does Windows Stand a Chance With Enterprise Mobile Apps?

October 14, 2014
Does Big Data Equal Big Brother?

October 7, 2014
Is Windows Still Relevant?

September 30, 2014
Tablet and Smartphone Futures: Specialization

September 23, 2014
Is the App Ecosystem Sustainable?

September 16, 2014
The Wearable-Identity Connection

September 9, 2014
The Password Dilemma

September 8, 2014
Insider Extra: SanDisk--Driving Flash Forward

September 2, 2014
Smart Connected Devices: A New Forecast

August 26, 2014
Phablets—aka Pocket Computers—Drive New World Order

August 19, 2014
Device Usage Diversity

August 12, 2014
New Life for the PC

August 5, 2014
Hot Items for the Holidays: Large Phones, Notebooks and Smart TVs

July 29, 2014
Smartphones: Life's Remote Control

July 22, 2014
The Joy of Vintage Tech

July 15, 2014
Digital Generation Gap

July 8, 2014
Virtualization Reborn

July 1, 2014
Portable Digital Identities

June 24, 2014
The Future of UI: Contextual Intelligence

June 17, 2014
Moving to Markets of One

June 16, 2014
Insider Extra: Dell and the Battle for Business

June 10, 2014
Screen Overload to Drive Screen-less Devices

June 3, 2014
Apple Drives Vision of Seamless Multi-Device Computing

May 27, 2014
Surface Pro 3: The Future of PCs?

May 22, 2014
Insider Extra: SanDisk: The Many Faces of Flash

May 20, 2014
The Technological Divining Rod

May 13, 2014
Computing in the Cloud

May 6, 2014
Device Usage a Question of Degree

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

October 21, 2014
Size Does Matter...When it Comes to Screens

The number of comedic comments that have been made about “size” probably outnumber knock-knock jokes these days, because it seems everyone likes to offer their view on the matter. When it comes to technology devices, there have also been numerous debates about the importance of size—or not—particularly when it comes to different devices within a specific category. The current iPhone 6 vs. 6 Plus discussions are a classic example.

What I haven’t seen discussed much is screen size differences across device categories. On the one hand, the reasoning is simple: everyone knows that TVs are bigger than PCs, which are bigger than tablets, which are bigger than smartphones, which are bigger than wearables. In fact, the very definition of several of these device categories (and sub-segments within them) is determined by screen size measurements.

Another reason we haven’t seen much discussion in this area is that it inevitably leads to the contentious discussion about which device is most important. Of course, “important” is a loaded word and could be interpreted to be the one that’s used the most, the one that provides the most value, or several other variations on that theme.

Interestingly, for some people, the amount of time people spend with their devices is directly proportional to their screen size, with many people spending the most time with their TV, next their PC and on down the line. Of course, there are many others for which it’s nearly the exact opposite (leaving out the brand new wearables category for the moment), with the most time spent on their smartphone, then their tablet, then their PC, and finally, their TV. I’ve even heard some discussions—which I don’t agree with—suggesting that within a few years, people will spend most of their time with wearables and less time with their smartphones and larger screens.

The implication in these arguments is that screen size doesn’t matter—that it’s all about portability and in that view, the smaller the better. Now, I admit I may be showing my middle age here, but c’mon, really?

In my opinion, larger screens do matter, and they matter a lot. In fact, I’d argue there’s a certain hierarchy of device importance based on screen size. In this instance, I’m not defining importance as time spent, because there is a lot of data out there (including my own) which suggests that reality is too complex to make a simple statement about time spent by device. What I’m referring to more is the ultimate importance of the activities done with the device—its overall gravitas.

Looking at things from that perspective, I’d argue that the PC (which is, admittedly, second to the TV in terms of screen size) continues to be the most important device to many people, even for many who only use it occasionally. The PC is still the device where the most important activities occur—doing taxes, keeping track of finances, maintaining photo and music libraries, attaching peripherals, creating documents, editing photos and videos, design and much, much more. Do some people do some of these activities on other devices? Of course they do. But for many people, these critical activities are still being done on the biggest screen people can possibly get their hands on.

The importance transfers over to electronic commerce as well. While lots of people browse on smartphones and tablets, most of the actual purchases are made on PCs, because people still perceive the PC as the most important, potentially most secure device. Plus, given that PCs still have more storage than any other devices, it’s also the place where our libraries of personal data—collected from across all our other “smaller” devices—still reside.

That’s why innovation in PCs is still important, whether that innovation comes from Apple or Microsoft or Dell or whomever. At last week’s Apple event, for example, it was clear that the new iMac with the 27” 5K retina display in conjunction with OS X Yosemite is a serious piece of computing gear that deserves a spot at the top of the device food chain. (Although, I kept wondering where the standalone 5K screen for the new Mac Pro was….) But it’s also why Windows 10 in combination with a 5K display from Dell can earn an equivalent spot at the top of that hierarchy. (And if we needed any more proof of the ongoing significance of larger-screen devices, the fact that Apple’s PC revenues were higher than its tablets revenues in its most recent quarter pretty much puts an exclamation point on it.)

There’s no question that people will be spending a great deal of time with smaller screens, particularly as we start to finally see sales of devices with really small screens (i.e., wearables) starting over the next year or so. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that when it comes to device screens, size really does matter.

Here's a link to the original column:

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