Coronavirus pushes users from phones to desktops

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Over the last several years, the manner in which we interact with the internet has changed radically.

In 2013, just 16% of web traffic came from mobile phones, today that number is a little over 50%.

A driving force behind this shift has been the massive innovation and triumphant rise in the smartphone space, which has seen our phone transform from straightforward communication devices to the mini-computers capable of browsing the web that they are today.

In fact, we covered this topic two and a half years ago when patterns of search volume traffic shifted to be majority mobile over desktop back in 2018, and highlighted the importance of adapting by optimizing web content for phone browsing. Since then this trend has only continued to develop in favour of mobile phones year by year, with the percentage of search volume traffic coming from mobile peaking at around 60% in 2019.

Coronavirus Shifts Consumer Behaviour

However, this figure has dropped recently in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Lockdowns, quarantines and remote work setups have contributed to a significant shift in our behaviour. Indeed markets are beginning to react to this new reality with the mobile market share relative desktop dropping in April and erasing a lot of the advantage it had built over the last couple of years.

What we are in fact seeing is a fundamentally altered landscape of internet usage. A driving force behind this reversion and a shift back towards a preference of desktop over mobile is the necessity of working-at-home setups including video conference software that is only likely to further expand its market presence in the future.

Boosted Markets On Desktop

But it isn’t only our work behaviour that is being influenced by our new socially distanced world. Spending more time at home and at desktop computers conducting remote work has seen associated shifts away from phones in other contexts also. Gaming usage and traffic has seen an enormous increase, which naturally includes increased traffic to gaming-related sites such as review aggregators. When users find themselves with greater time and access in a market, the demand for structured assistance navigating that market increases.

This has also been the case for the gambling and online casino industries, which have seen a huge shift from both in-person and mobile gambling to online betting on desktop browsers. Similarly to the video gaming space, this has been accompanied by an increased need for and traffic to review sites for online slot sites such as

Users moving to desktops from phones have also shifted their video-streaming habits in favour of desktop. Platforms such as Netflix and Youtube have seen associated significant drops in app usage alongside huge increases to their website traffic. For big companies such as these, this kind of change doesn’t pose an enormous challenge, yet for others this is a major concern.

Innovating To Keep Up With The Times

Smaller, more mobile-oriented or phone-tailored apps and services are likely to see continued difficult times ahead as we increasingly shift our preference further towards desktop over mobile phone. After all, if we’re spending so much time at home working remotely and socially distancing ourselves, then the mobile phone becomes less of a necessity. Professionally, desktops tend to offer far more versatile and powerful software options. In terms of major hobbies such as gaming and binging TV shows, desktops similarly demand a clear advantage when the benefits of mobility are removed from the equation.

Essentially every market in our economy and every aspect of our society is seeing huge change as we move through the coronavirus pandemic. In terms of our phone usage, this poses a significant hurdle for business, while for desktop-focused websites and services this is a huge opportunity. Yet this new landscape offers great potential for both as the demand for innovative design in order to compete in these shrinking and growing markets, respectively, will shape and drive the development of the tech space moving forwards.