Ofcom: smartphone internet use growing seven times faster than laptops and desktops

By Peter Gothard
07 Aug 2014 View Comments

Online smartphone and tablet use has risen seven times faster than that for laptops and desktops within the past two years, according to a report by regulator Ofcom.

While estimates have always pointed to a widening gulf, Ofcom's UK studies suggest a radical change even within the past year.

Further reading

Between March 2013 and March 2014, laptop and desktops connecting to the internet rose from 44.5 million to 45.3 million - an increase of 1.5 per cent. At the same time, mobile devices on the internet have grown from 27.2 million to 30.2 million - up 11 per cent.

The previous period saw growth of 4.2 per cent for laptops and desktops, and 6.6 per cent for mobile devices.

Ofcom's ownership figures show that 63 per cent of UK homes now own an internet-ready laptop, with 61 per cent owning a smartphone. Desktops account for 35 per cent while the netbook - now often considered a failed format next to the tablet - still exists in eight per cent of homes.

Ofcom also points out that laptop ownership growth seems to have stabilised.

"Laptop computer ownership in UK households has been stable over the past two years. This suggests that tablet computers may be being used as a complement to, rather than a replacement for, more traditional computers," says the report.

Indeed, the UK seems to be in a state of consumerised technology flux, with 50 per cent of homes owning four devices, 36 per cent with five devices, and 22 per cent owning six.

Such research may provide an interesting case in favour of hybrid devices, such as Microsoft's Surface series of tablet/laptop devices.

With employee demands and consumer spending continuing to closely inform enterprise endpoint investments, CIOs could look to consolidate form factors as one way forward. 

Finally, Ofcom's report shows that 60 per cent of workers now habitually indulge in "work-related communication activity" outside work. This comprises 46 per cent emails - presumably on the seven-or-so devices they have lying around the house. 

Forty-four per cent of workers will take their mobile phone - with work email access - abroad on holiday, and 30 per cent will keep working while on holiday.

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