Touch Computing Is Touching Every Part Of Our Lives

by John Kirk   |   April 18th, 2013


We Live In Amazing Times

We live in amazing times. The modern smartphone (really, a portable pocket computer) is only 6 years old. The modern tablet is only 3 years old. Yet the combination of the internet, simplified touch computing, wireless data downloads and the availability of cheap, innumerable applications on demand, has wholly revolutionized what computing is and will become.

Affecting Our Lives

Touch computers are already a pervasive part of our lives:

49% of the entire U.S. population uses a smartphone. By 2017, the percent of smartphone users is expected to reach 68%.

Tablet ownership increased 177 percent over the past year.

Already, 23% of teens own a tablet.

Affecting Our Lifestyles

The effect on our lifestyles has been even greater:

Four out of five smartphone users check their phones within the first 15 minutes of waking up. 80% of those say it’s the first thing they do in the morning.

79% of smartphone users have their phone on or near them for all but two hours of their waking day; 63% keep it with them for all but one hour. A full quarter of of smartphone owners couldn’t recall a single time of the day when their phone wasn’t in the same room as them.

Mobile users can’t leave their phone alone for six minutes and check it up to 150 times a day.

25% of those aged 12-17 access the Internet “primarily” via a cell phone or smartphone. Among teens with a smartphone, however, 50% access the Internet primarily via the mobile device. Girls are more likely than boys to rely on their smartphone as their primary Internet access device.

More than 80 percent of consumers are multitasking while watching TV.

More people now watch TV and movies on tablets in their bedrooms than they watch them on TVs.

Dissolving The Digital Divide

Surprisingly – at least to me – black and hispanic teens are more likely to own a smartphone than their white counterparts. Some feel that the smartphone could be the tool that eradicates the digital divide. In any case, phones are now the new personal computers of our age, allowing the poor and the isolated to enjoy computing power that was formerly unavailable to them.

Multiple Screens

If, in 2006, you had predicted that individuals would own, not one, but three computers, you would have been laughed at. First, few needed three separate computing devices and second, even fewer could afford them. Yet today, twenty-six percent of consumers in the United States own a laptop, smartphone and tablet.

Let me re-remind you that the modern tablet has only been in existence for a mere THREE YEARS. If 26% of consumers in the United States already own the trio of smartphone, tablet and notebook, then the explosive growth of multiple screen computing ownership is only just beginning.

Touch Computing Is Only Just Beginning

Most technology observers look at phones, and even tablets, as maturing markets. I feel otherwise.

– Phones are just beginning to invade our lives. People who formerly didn’t need a phone – the young, the old, the technologically uninterested – are all adopting smartphones as their go-to computing device.

– People who formerly didn’t have any access to computers – the poor and citizens of third world countries – are also adopting smartphones as their first – and perhaps only – computing device.

– Where we used to own a single family computer, now every member of the family will want to possess their own personal tablet.

– Most people who own a tablet will own a smartphone too, and perhaps a notebook as well.

Our Lives Will Never Be The Same

Most technology observers seem to have a very poor grasp of economics and consumer behavior. They speak in terms of limited resources and assume that technological growth is limited. The truth is that we don’t buy what we need, we buy what we want. And a further truth is that when we want and value something highly enough, we shift our limited resources in order to find a way to obtain it.

In 2006, we only needed a single, cheap desktop or notebook computer. Today we expect and demand access to multiple mobile computing devices.

We don’t NEED tablets, but we WANT them and we’re going to find a way to buy and possess them. And smartphones are rapidly moving from the category of a WANT to something that we both WANT AND NEED in order to merely function in modern society.

Sales of mobile touch computers are about to explode and our lifestyles and our lives will never be the same.

John Kirk

John R. Kirk is a recovering attorney. He has also worked as a financial advisor and a business coach. His love affair with computing started with his purchase of the original Mac in 1985. His primary interest is the field of personal computing (which includes phones, tablets, notebooks and desktops) and his primary focus is on long-term business strategies: What makes a company unique; How do those unique qualities aid or inhibit the success of the company; and why don’t (or can’t) other companies adopt the successful attributes of their competitors?
  • jfutral

    “They speak in terms of limited resources and assume that technological growth is limited. The truth is that we don’t buy what we need, we buy what we want. And a further truth is that when we want and value something highly enough, we shift our limited resources in order to find a way to obtain it.”

    I have trouble getting artists and arts orgs to understand this as well. My favourite Shakespeare quote from King Lear:

    “O, reason not the need! Our basest beggars
    Are in the poorest thing superfluous.
    Allow not nature more than nature needs,
    Man’s life’s as cheap as beast’s. ”

    Another great article.

    Joe