The One Screen World Keeps Happening

Mitch JoelPosted by

How many screens is your brand marketing against?

In my second business book, CTRL ALT Delete (which came out in a trade paperback version this past May), I introduced the notion of The One Screen World. The only screen that matters to a consumer, is the screen that is in front of them. Screens are everywhere, they are cheap (and getting cheaper), they are ubiquitous and they are all either connected to the Internet, to one another or will be. Soon. The rationale behind this was a lot of push-back that I had seen in-market from the marketing industry, that looked at three screens (television, computers and mobile devices). As the world connected and became more mobile, this approach felt anathema to the work that we were doing at Mirum, and to our perspective on how brands can better connect with consumers.

This evolution to the one screen is happening quicker than everybody anticipated.

You could think of this, in terms of connected screens now being a watch or glasses, but that’s not the innovation that I am thinking about. The Wall Street Journal reported this week (in an article titled, PC Sales Continue To Fall) that: “Worldwide PC shipments saw their sharpest decline in nearly two years in the second quarter of 2015, dealing continued damage to retailers and makers of computers, chips and PC software. Shipments fell 9.5 percent, year on year, to 68.4 million units, according to the research firm Gartner. Rival researcher IDC, which doesn’t include tablets in its tally, tracked an 11.8 percent drop, year on year, to 66.1 million shipments during the quarter.” 

The PC became relegated to an accessory to our mobile devices, but maybe PCs are simply on their way to becoming a relic?

Here’s what we do know: consumers began to ditch their computers as mobile device screens got bigger and easier to use (think tablets, iPads, etc…). With that, consumers then started using these smartphones and tablets for the vast majority of their online use (think Facebook, YouTube, etc…). So, what’s a PC for? Writing longer pieces of text? Creating presentations or other “bigger” types of office/work-related functions that either the mobile devices can’t do yet, in terms of pure app functionality, or usage that humans have become very attached to (typing on keys, instead of screens).

What we do know: the apps will (eventually) be better than the software. Humans will get much better at typing on screens.  

None of that is shocking. None of that feels like it’s happening in the distant future. Still, computers are important. While this is a market of one statement, I use my MacBook Air much more than my mobile device, because the bulk of my connectivity and productivity comes from writing words (still feeling the need for a physical keyboard) and creating presentations (current apps don’t have the same functionality and usability of PowerPoint or Keynote). What this *may* mean, is that consumers still need computers for the heavy lifting, but that will change as the tech moves forward, and as the need to do that kind of work becomes less important. Yes, mobile is forcing a new kind of content. Shorter messages, messaging apps, FaceTime, and more.

No, computers are not dead.

Not yet. How we use these devices is shifting dramatically. This is important. It’s important for businesses, when they think about the type of people they employ and how those physical work spaces play out. It’s important for marketers, in terms of understanding not just what kinds of screens consumers see, but the context in which they are being used.

The one screen world just keeps becoming more and more pervasive.