6 in 10 online adults in the US and UK use at least 2 devices every day, while one-quarter in the UK and one-fifth in the US use 3 devices daily, reports GfK in the results of a study commissioned by Facebook. A large proportion of multi-device users sometimes start one activity on one device but transition to another to finish it; in fact this behavior extends to 40% of the online adults surveyed. Most commonly, the study found, users switch devices in order to finish a task on a larger screen.
Not surprisingly, the prevalence of device-switching increases alongside the number of devices owned. Within the US, a slight majority 53% of respondents who own 2 devices switch between them to finish tasks, while 77% of those who own 3 devices do so.
Among all the switches tracked in the study, 22% finished on a tablet and 58% on a laptop. (Among UK respondents, those figures were even higher, at 25% and 60%, respectively.)
That likely speaks to the types of activities that each device is considered most suitable for. Smartphones are the choice for more than three-quarters of online adults when it comes to communication and social activity on-the-go, while tablets are considered more to be entertainment devices typically used at home, shared with others by 50% of UK respondents and 43% of US respondents. When it comes to productivity, laptops and desktops are the preferred choice, with 80% of US respondents and 86% of UK respondents using them at home.
While not strictly dealing with device switching, other research has also tended to portray these devices in the same way. So while many tablet users, for example, say they’ve shifted product research from their PCs to their devices, fewer are using their tablets to actually complete purchases or to conduct non-entertainment activities such as paying bills and booking travel.
An August 2012 study from Google came to largely the same conclusions as Facebook’s study in terms of the roles played by each device and the sequential behavior of device users. In Google’s research, some 90% of respondents reported using multiple devices sequentially to accomplish a task over time, with 98% of those moving between the devices during the same day. When it came to the path to purchase, multi-device users tended to begin their activities on a smartphone but graduate to a PC/laptop to finish them.
About the Data: The data is based on a survey of 2,018 UK online adults and 2,004 US online adults carried out by GfK during November and December 2013.