The PC – not the mobile – is still the big screen for 18-34 year-olds

2 Jun 2009

For internet-based activities such as social networking, VoIP, instant messaging, watching video and gaming, the PC is still very much the preferred communication medium for 18-35 year-olds in Ireland and the UK, new research has revealed.

PC solutions firm Vennetics commissioned the University College Dublin (UCD) Graduate School of Business to research the communications preferences of the 18-35 demographic in Ireland and the UK.

In terms of activities and applications that are available on both mobile phones and laptops – downloading video clips or music, social networking, voice over IP (VoIP) and instant messaging – there’s a distinct preference for laptops over mobiles.

Taking downloading or watching video online as an example, 70pc never use this application on their phones, compared with 9pc never using it on their laptop.

When expressing why users prefer to use their laptop, one user stated that it was “an overall a better experience than utilising a mobile phone network”. Other answers centred around reasons such as the larger screen, better sound quality and the better download speed offered by a laptop.

One in four users had bought their laptop for recreational purposes, with a high majority using it on a daily basis. The specifications of the laptop are the main influencing factor when making the purchase. A trend that emerged from the research was that the average laptop has a life cycle of approximately two years.

The research shows 46pc of laptop users have previously made a call using VoIP, whereas only 25pc have made a VoIP call from their mobile. Users stated that because VoIP services offered additional functionality on their PC, such as video calling, this gave them more of a reason to use their PC for VoIP over their mobile phone.

Social networking is an activity performed by almost all users on their laptop, compared to two-thirds of users who never use this application on their mobile phone.

Cost is the main influencing factor when social networking, followed by ease of use. Facebook, Twitter and Bebo are predictably the three most popular sites among the sample when social networking.

From those who social network on both a laptop and mobile phone, over two-thirds of users prefer to do it on their laptop in the Republic of Ireland, mainly due to the fact that the screen size is bigger and it is quicker. In the UK, almost all users prefer to social network on their laptop.

“The increasing penetration of mobile broadband access (HSPA) and PC ownership not only in the UK and Ireland but globally, signals that the computer screen is now the dominant user interface for all communication services,” explained John Barron, marketing director at Vennetics.

“The digital home and digital office are becoming a reality through greater market demand for mobility and virtual working,” Barron said.

By John Kennedy