PC/laptops still key for some categories online

The digital media industry – including UKOM – has spent a good deal of time over recent months focusing on the growth of the smartphone market and, in UKOM’s case, specifically on how and why mobiles are taking the lion’s share of time online. In July 2016 only 38% of adults’ internet time was spent on PCs and laptops. However, smartphones and tablets don’t dominate uniformly across all content and this month UKOM identifies categories where the PC/laptop still dominates and hypothesises as to why the platform may still be preferred for certain types of content.

Privacy and complexity of interaction is likely to have significant influence over platform choice – understandably internet users may not wish to have someone looking over their shoulder on the train if they are visiting adult sites (92% of time is spent on a PC/laptop) or undertaking confidential business and financial activities (51%) such as submitting tax information (77%) to HMRC, online banking (56%) or trading online (57%).

Perhaps predictably, the PC/laptop comfortably dominates the education category with 87% of adults preferring this platform for distance learning and online courses. 

Email is still predominantly a PC/laptop activity with 66% of time spent on the platform, despite the fact that other communication methods e.g. social networking (37%) and instant messaging (8%) are very mobile orientated. Of course Business related email will go some way to explain this in conjunction with longer emails, which take more time to compose, or include larger attachments, may be easier to type on a PC keyboard than shorter, less formal communications such as those on Twitter and IM services.

In line with email, around two-thirds (64%) of Automotive minutes are consumed on the PC/laptop. This is even higher among car manufacturer sites (69%) – the high value nature of the purchase, rich customisation features, detailed specifications, images, videos and comparison tools makes the PC a very relevant and useful platform for automotive research. 

Within the entertainment category (54%), movie sites are driving the high share, with 86% of time spent on a PC/laptop - the big screen environment together with the lean back nature of movie-watching obviously lends itself more to bigger screens and activation of sound. 

Travel still sees the majority of time spent on a PC/laptop (58%). This is predominantly driven by car rental (87%), online travel agents (70%), airlines (74%) and hotels (67%). Perhaps like the automotive category, it’s a high value purchase with a good deal of consideration and subsequently the ability to view sizeable images of a holiday destination online is likely to be a factor. Of course the infamous small print becomes even smaller when screen size is reduced so reading the terms and conditions on a big screen may be favoured by those consumers who actually pay enough attention to do it! It is interesting that UKOM data show online banking sites featuring strongly in source/loss reports (sites visited immediately before or after others) for travel websites and we know that the PC/laptop takes the majority share of minutes for banking sites – perhaps people are double-checking their finances or the status of their travel insurance policies before deciding to book?

Finally, although the PC/laptop takes only 40% of overall retail minutes among adults, it does account for the majority of minutes for many retail sub-categories including PC software (80%) and hardware (68%) (no hypothesis required), toys (88%), home furnishings (73%), jewellery & luxury goods (64%) and apparel (56%) among others.

In addition to all the hypotheses above, the data show that age also plays a big part in determining desktop share by category.  UKOM data shows there is a strong relationship between a person’s age and PC/laptop’s share of minutes so it stands to reason that categories which have high minute composition for older age groups, will also have higher PC/laptop share of time online such as portals (62%). In fact, among 55+, the proportion of time spent on the PC/laptop is over 10% higher than all adults for many of the categories featured here especially automotive, portals, email, finance and travel.

Every month, UKOM sees PC/laptop’s share of overall time decline among adults. Only time will tell if mobile will eventually dominate the categories above or whether consumers will always favour the PC/laptop for specific activities and content consumption. For certain categories of content the desktop or laptop PC isn’t giving up its audience to the smartphone just yet.

Download the full PC/laptops still key for some categories online.pdf here.

To find out more about UKOM Insights, please email insight@ukom.uk.net.


Notes on Data:

All data is based on UKOM industry standard and development level approved comScore MMX Multi-Platform data based on adults 18+ for July 2016. comScore MMX Multi-Platform includes desktop browsing, desktop video streams, smartphone browsing & apps (on-network only for untagged apps), tablet browsing & apps for tagged sites & apps.

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