Sales of personal computers (PCs), including both laptops and desktops, are plummeting quarter after quarter. In the last three months, PC sales dropped a staggering 13.9%. CNN calls it the worst PC sales drop in history, and it's further proof of a growing trend in the digital device marketplace—mobile is taking over.
This is changing everything about how businesses are marketing online.
To understand why and how this shift is happening and what it means for businesses, we need to step back and take a look at digital devices and what they're used for.
Do We Still Need the PC?
In general, we use digital devices—computers, tablets, e-readers, smartphones, and others—for one or more of the following purposes.
1. Consuming or delivering information and media.
2. Connecting and communicating with individuals and groups.
3. Completing various technical digital tasks.
The first category includes activities such as watching movies, reading the news, researching local hair salons, finding restaurant reviews, posting a photo to Facebook, tweeting, and so on. The second category includes activities such as making phone calls, instant messaging, sending emails, and the like. And the third category includes activities such as writing research papers, editing movies, playing video games, managing databases, mastering professional audio mixes, drafting architectural blueprints, and more.
As you can see, these categories overlap in many ways. But you can also see that many of these activities can be completed with ease on something as small and simple as a smartphone. You simply don't need a desktop computer to upload a photo to Facebook anymore. You don't need a computer to check Yelp reviews. You don't need a computer to search for a plumber in your town or purchase a new pair of socks on Amazon or send an email to your coworkers. You can do all of this right from your phone, tablet, e-reader, or other mobile device.
For the first time, many of the most common and important digital tasks don't require a PC.
But is this really proof that “the PC is dead?” You may have seen articles discussing how the PC is only mostly dead and how PC sales are dropping simply because PCs don’t need to be replaced very often anymore. There's truth to this. After all, architectural drafting probably isn't moving to smartphones anytime soon. And it's definitely still easier to carry out complex database management tasks on a computer rather than on, say, an iPad. In fact, most of the technical activities mentioned in the third category above still require a computer—a fairly powerful one.
So why say that the PC is dead?
Read that previous sentence again. The tasks that still require a computer usually require a fairly powerful computer, optimized for performance. And many of those tasks are specialized, at least to an extent. For example, unless you're an audio engineer or an aspiring music professional, you probably aren't using your computer to lay down beats—and if you are an audio engineer, you're not working with a $749 Acer laptop. You're working with a “real computer,” something at the prosumer level or beyond, a workstation. And you're using it for work.
We definitely still use computers. But more and more today, we are using computers to work—not to play or connect or share or learn. These activities are happening on phones and tablets and e-readers. Consumer activities are shifting to mobile devices.
Marketing in a Mobile World
What does all of this mean for your business? It means your web presence needs to adapt to the mobile world. Over 18% of all website visits come from mobile phones, and that percentage is increasing dramatically every year. Some experts predict that by the end of 2013, the majority of web traffic will come from mobile devices. And it's not just traffic. Mobile commerce is growing as well, with more and more customers purchasing products via phones. Your company needs to be ready for this. Here are a few suggestions to make the transition to mobile.
1. Make sure your website is optimized for mobile devices.
It's no secret that mobile devices and tablets are smaller than PCs and operate differently. A website that is designed to fit a traditional computer screen won't show up properly on a smartphone—if it shows up at all. The solution to this problem is responsive design. A website that is coded to be responsive can detect the size of a visitor's screen and will adjust layout, text size, and other features to provide the optimal viewing experience.
2. Invest in a strong social media presence.
Social media is a huge part of the mobile environment. The fact that Facebook is launching its own phone, more or less, is proof enough of this. But more importantly, many of the most popular apps on mobile devices are for social media platforms. Mobile is inherently social, and increasing your social media presence is a good way to start increasing your mobile presence.
3. Build customer loyalty with a mobile app.
In a world of touchscreens, your business phone number needs to be “click-to-call” so that a user can simply tap it to dial it into his or her phone. But this is just the beginning. Have you considered building a mobile app for your company? Apps can be designed to offer a one-click-to-call feature, step-by-step GPS directions, products to purchase, customer loyalty programs, data gathering tools, and more, all at the push of a button. The shift to mobile offers a world of opportunity for businesses.
If you'd like to learn more about optimizing your web presence for mobile devices, feel free to contact us today!