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The decline of the desktop just passed a major milestone

By Michael Baxter on 5 December 2016 with tags Utopia

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They say it’s one of the saddest moments in a person’s life when their child can beat them at a game for the first time, and the desktop computer just had its own electronic version of that distressing experience. October 2016 was the month smartphones and tablet web browsing finally took the lead: 51.3% to 48.7%. Sure, there’s no biological link here, but there’s only one way this graph is going, and it’s not in the desktop’s favour – even with recent attempts to give it a kickstart.

The statistics are from StatCounter, which has been tracking global browser data since October 2009. Cast your mind back to then: Phil Goff was leader of Labour, Vodafone Album of the year was from Ladyhawke and Susan Boyle won Britain’s Got Talent. Your phone was most likely either an Apple iPhone 3GS, the HTC Hero or the Palm Pre. Is it any wonder, given the somewhat clunky browsing experience those handsets offered, that in those days you preferred browsing from the desktop?

That’s all changed now with smartphones and tablets offering a better experience all-round, and smartphone data plans no longer being insultingly limited for the money. These stats should be a wake-up call to professionals who still view mobile optimisation as an afterthought. Mobile compatibility is increasingly important, not just because of growing traffic, but because Google favours mobile-friendly websites for its mobile search results.

While the trend is pretty obvious worldwide, interestingly the graph is skewed by mobile adoption outside of the West. While the UK and USA still have the desktop on top (55.6% to 44.4% and 58% to 42% respectively), 78% of India’s internet access is via mobile. Here in New Zealand the stats are currently showing the desktop still winning – but for how long?

We should not ignore the global trend and therefore prepare for a more mobile world. If you still have a website that cannot handle mobile visitors now is the time to rectify this and contact us at Utopia today.