How Americans spend their spare time has radically changed in the past five years, with smartphones beginning to take up even more time than game consoles. Some 65 percent of Americans now own a smartphone, up from 44 percent two years earlier, and they are more common in the American household than cable.
The trend toward mobile devices has been accompanied by a drop in desktop PC sales, which has also resulted in businesses needing to focus on mobile ads rather than regular banner advertisements. PCs may not be dead, but as Microsoft attempted to do with Windows 8, future desktops will likely have more in common with smartphones and tablets.
Hispanics Are Ahead
The Nielsen Digital Consumer Report for 2013 not only showed a continuing shift toward smartphones but also revealed that Hispanics are ahead of the curve. Despite a significant wealth gap between Hispanics and whites, Hispanics now spend more time on mobile devices and game consoles than the average American.
"Hispanic consumers have rapidly adopted multiple screens into their daily video viewing routines and represent 47 million traditional TV viewers in the U.S. and growing," Nielsen said. "Latinos adopt smartphones at a higher rate than any other demographic group and watch more hours of videos online and on their mobile phones than the average American."
PCs Are Not Dead
While the numbers continue to shift in favor of tablets and smartphones, both laptops and desktops are still being sold and they are still used by a large portion of Americans every day. The current decrease in PC sales has resulted in smaller earnings reports for some companies but it has not removed PCs from homes and businesses.
We asked Jeff Kagan, an independent technology analyst, for his opinion on Nielsen's report and what it means for the PC market. He told us that the growing number of smartphones available to consumers has resulted in a wider array of choices, allowing people to conveniently use a device they carry around rather then relying on a regular PC.
"Now, when we are in front of our computers we will still use them. However when we are out or not in front of our computers we have a new way to go online with our smartphones." Kagan said. "Yesterday the online pie was one big pie. Today the online pie has a few slices and we can choose the slice we want to use, whether that be the computer, the tablet, the wrist device or the smartphone."
The efficiency that is found with smartphones is itself enough to cause a decrease in the amount of hours that Americans spend on their computers. However, for larger tasks, tablet and smartphones have yet to provide a complete alternative to regular PCs.