Young Americans ARE going mobile, but they are NOT abandoning computers

Comscore 2015 Global Mobile report cover

The good folks at comScore have released their Global Mobile Report (free download), which looks at multiplatform audiences by demographic in the US, Canada and the UK. The single most important finding is the data on smartphone usage for Americans 18-34 (aka millennials or Generation Y) versus what Canadians and Britons are doing.

As you can see on the chart below, Americans 18-34 spent 61% of their digital media time on smartphones in March 2015, compared to 47% and 50% for Canadians and Britons of the same age! And that seems to be coming out of their computer use: American millennials are on PCs only 31% of the time, compared to 49-50% for those of us with the Queen on our coins. (Please note that comScore uses the word ‘desktop’ to describe all computer use: laptop or desktop, PC or Mac.)

Comscore 2015 time spent percent

Put another way, American millennials are on their smartphones 30% more than computers, while the non-American smartphone usage is only 8-10% more. Given that the US market is sometimes a leading indicator or bellwether, this raises serious questions about if the rest of the world is going to follow in their footsteps?

Before we go there we need to look at another comScore chart. As you can see below, mobile consumption (the orange square represents smartphones and tablets combined) by American 18-34 year olds is massively out of whack compared to what we see in the UK and Canada: their monthly mobile time spent of 88.6 hours is a full 30% higher than the UK/Canada average of about 68 hours.

Comscore 2015 time spent hours

And the reason why I think this is important is the blue squares in the chart above. Millennials in Canada and the UK are very similar to each other, using computers for digital media time (other computer use isn’t being measured) about 44.6 absolute hours per month. American millennials are a lower at 39.1 hours, but that difference is much smaller than the percentages would suggest, and is only about ten minutes per day.

My conclusion? Younger Americans aren’t really using computers that much less for digital media, instead they are using mobile that much more!

And I think that way of looking at it is critical: the computer isn’t going away, the smartphone is instead growing the total digital media pie.


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