Is there a decline in personal device usage?

The change in application use is reflective of a broader shift in the way that people interact with the technology around them. Even five years ago, people were not as ‘connected’ as they are now. Increasing broadband connection speeds, wider availability of free Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G mobile networks has meant that we are hardly ever away from the multitude of computers that we now carry with us, wherever we go.

Smart TVs and connective boxes mean that we can now not only stream high definition programs into our home, share photos seconds after we have taken them and have a greater choice of what to view than ever before. The rise of ‘dual screen’ use, where people watch something on a large screen whilst also messaging or playing games on their smartphone or tablet has created a situation where, it would seem, we are constantly watching but never ‘looking’. We are experiencing moments through the medium of a screen, focusing on recording it digitally rather than inscribing it on our memory.

It is an acute awareness of this perpetual interconnectivity that has lead to a shift in the way in which we now view technology in our homes and workplaces. Whilst we can control our computers, televisions, sound systems and pretty much anything else that we want from the palm of our hand. People have come to reflect negatively on this, preferring instead to put down their devices and converse with each other.

The watershed moment for constant device use has arguably come in the form of advertising for major brands which now openly points to the habitual checking of devices in public places, whether that is when we are with family and friends or if it is in a business situation.

This has been combined with a series of revelations in the past year about just how much information we have been willingly giving away on the internet and that has been tracked by major government agencies with ease. We are becoming more suspicious of our devices and notably more considerate in our usage of them. We are using smartphones, as phones. Not as 24/7 portable computers which are surgically attached to our arms!

Where then does this leave developers? The knee-jerk reaction would be to panic, if consumers are using their devices less, then surely application use will also decline? The answer is not quite this simple; whilst the decline in the amount of time spent using devices will certainly see a decrease in the amount of time spent using applications it does not mean that all is lost.

Consumers are likely to be more selective in the applications which they choose to use, setting aside the less-useful apps and using only those which they feel they need or which, in the case of games, are enjoyable in short bursts of use. It is likely that users will seek out applications that benefit their productivity and will set aside those which they consider to be novelty and of little or no use.

Have you made a conscious change in the way you use your devices? Are you buying fewer apps than you were a year ago? Let us know!

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