Mobile devices first port of call for half of consumers by 2018

By 2018, smartphones and tablets will be the first devices used for online activities, according to research firm Gartner

By 2018, smartphones and tablets will be the preferred devices for online activities, according to research firm Gartner.

This trend is increasingly becoming the case in emerging markets, where users are adopting smartphones and tablets as their main devices.

In the next three years, the number of these devices being purchased in developing countries will increase. Gartner predicts 78% of global smartphone sales will come from emerging markets.

In developed countries, the number of tablets in homes is rising steadily, and Gartner predicts that by 2018 more than half of people will use these devices first for internet access.

Tablets are also continuing to enter the workplace, and earlier this year Gartner said enterprises benefit more from bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies for employee tablets than from deploying enterprise-owned smartphones and laptops.

Users now use smartphones on the go and tablets for longer browsing sessions, turning to traditional PCs only for more complex tasks, according to Gartner research vice-president Van Baker.

“This behaviour will adapt to incorporate wearables as they become widely available for users,” he said. “As voice, gesture and other modalities grow in popularity with consumers, and as content consumption tasks outweigh content creation tasks, this will further move users away from the PC.”

As the number of mobile, connected devices increases, Gartner predicts the way these connections are established will change. According to Gartner, 40% of organisations will use Wi-Fi as the default for non-mobile, connected devices, such as console equipment and desk phones.

“Ethernet cabling has been the mainstay of business workspace connectivity since the beginning of networking,” said Ken Dulaney, vice-president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. 

“However, as smartphones, laptops, tablets and other consumer devices have multiplied, the consumer space has largely converted to a wireless-first world,” he added.

These changes will help fuel bring-your-own-device (BYOD) strategies, as readily available Wi-Fi will help employees to be more flexible with which devices they use to do what task.

But development of these policies is still needed, as almost a quarter of employees are unaware of their organisation’s BYOD policy, according to identity management firm Intercede.

"As BYOD has increased in many organisations, the collision of the business and consumer worlds has changed workers' demands,” said Dulaney.

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