Are screen juggling and the good old PC here to stay?

In search of the device that does it all

For many years in the world of mobile computing there has been much made of the idea of ‘convergence’ – that is, after the rapid proliferation of different device types and form factors to suit every conceivable type of use, eventually mobile devices will be refined to such an extent that they can do everything you need them to do sufficiently well. To the extent that we call all afford to live with just one. This is why iPods are staring into the abyss (accounting for only 2% of Apples profits in Q1 2014) and PDAs fell off their perch years ago – while Smartphones go from strength to strength.  The idea of convergence is still a guiding light for many manufacturers, imagine the thought process:

“If we just make Smartphone screens bigger and tablet screens smaller and perhaps create devices with detachable keyboards for productivity – if we can just keep refining these three concepts then eventually we will arrive at one device category to rule them all.”

But apart from perhaps being great from an affordability perspective is the ‘one screen that does it all’ solution really a desirable scenario to arrive at? Insights we gathereed in our annual Multi Screen Life study suggests perhaps not.

For instance compared to tablets and smartphones very few users of all three types of devices feel that laptops are portable (at one point their raison d’etre) or fun – yet they remain as relevant to users as either tablets or smartphones.  And it is the acknowledgement that despite their inherent flaws, the good old PC is just better at certain tasks, explaining why they are still regarded as ‘essential’ by half of multi-screeners. This thinking is supported by the action (or rather inaction) of businesses such as Microsoft whose Office software whilst dominating the traditional PC market has been noticeably coy in entering the mobile computing arena with its suite of applications – partly, we would imagine, as an acknowledgement that fully fledged productivity tools are just not yet ready to cope with this paradigm shift towards multi-screening.

Attributes users give to their devices (the closer the attribute the stronger the association)