August 16, 2012
The high speed of adaptation of web-based technologies has been particularly apparent in the mobile device segment over the past 12 months. A rising share of the US population already owns or wants to own smartphones, tablet PCs and/or e-book readers to be able to have constant online and offline access to digital content whatever their location. With a slight time lag this also applies to the German market for mobile devices. Digital structural change is leading to a situation in which people will make less and less distinction between offline and online access in the long term. The internet will be omnipresent. As a consequence the question in future will no longer be whether people use the internet, but rather whether they tend to be active or passive users and which medium they use for access.
People’s growing demand for mobile devices is also impacting patterns of consumption and media use. This transformation process could continue to result in declining sales of stationary, internet-enabled devices. For example in the last six years the number of those people in the US who owned a desktop PC fell by 13 percentage points, while the number of owners of smartphones, notebooks, tablet PCs and e-book readers has grown appreciably since they have been on the market.
The convergence of information and communication technologies (ICT) is also playing a key role in this regard. It is convenient for internet users to consume all their preferred digital content via one device. For example, the operating systems of the latest smartphones support many different offline and online services, such as the consumption of music and videos, the reading and alteration of text formats, the maintenance of social contacts, navigation using geodata or the speech-activated operation of devices. This means that a person with a smartphone no longer needs to also carry around a navigation device or an MP3 player. The recent decline in the usage of MP3 players to be seen in the chart is evidence of this development. Caution and vigilance are, however, advisable with respect to the security of mobile, internet-enabled devices. Advances in security lag behind the speed of adaptation of web-based technologies to a worrying degree.