Where The Boys (And Girls) Are

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In schizophrenic times, there’s a good chance you’ll see some schizophrenic thinking.

It takes a couple of years as a Blogger to come to the realization that you will, eventually, write a Blog post that completely contradicts what you may have blogged about earlier on in your process. Some might see that as a complete corruption of being credible, I would argue that a lot of what happens in Blogging becomes a learning experience. Some Bloggers learn and change their perspective from how the comments unfold, while others learn from gaining more practical work experience, reflecting on an issue and then doing more critical thinking on a subject. Does this remove credibility from the Blogger? Hardly. There’s a reason that I’m Blogging about this theme tonight, because what I’m about to Blog about may run in complete opposition to a Blog post I published… yesterday (see: Fear And Loathing In Advertising). Yes, some thoughts and perspectives change overnight.

Mobile is small.

Yes… you are reading that right. And yes, that makes me sad to write, but it may be true. What we (and, when I write "we," I mean "me") want to have happen in this new media world and how we would like consumers to be interacting with all things digital may take some time. According to Business Insider and their chart of the day today, Microsoft’s Windows Compared To iOS And Android, the number one operating system (by a massive landslide) is still Microsoft Windows… desktop edition.

What do these numbers look like (as of December 2011)?

  • Windows (desktop): 77.89%
  • Mac (desktop): 13.15%
  • ios: 4.91%
  • Android: 2.65%
  • Other: 1.32%

We’re not all that untethered… yet.

The Business Insider Chart of the Day goes on to say: "While Windows remains dominant, it’s becoming less important. Over the last six months, it lost a few percentage points to iOS… Stepping back further, six years ago it controlled 90% of the market. And there doesn’t seem to be any reason to believe Windows is going to reverse the trend anytime soon."

What we know vs. what we believe.

I call this moment in time "media purgatory" – we’re not quite in heaven and it’s definitely not hell. The numbers are trending in the right direction, but we have to able to recognize that the new conversation and discourse should not really be about PC versus Mac. The real shift that we’re going to see is from desktop versus mobile. What we know (and what I believe) is that this shift will not be slow and linear. It’s going to be a fast and exponential shift (and yes, I realize that this statement flies in the face of some of the biggest research companies out there). What we learned from yesterday’s Blog post is that consumers are spending much more time with their mobile than other media channels. What we didn’t learn yesterday (that we’re learning right now by seeing this Business Insider chart) is that desktop (both PC and Mac) make up over ninety percent when it comes to share of platforms driving traffic to websites in the U.S. Sure, these numbers may not be one hundred percent accurate (and the article even says so), but that cumulative number still tells a story.

Some raw facts.

This moment of purgatory is the exact reason why Marketers struggle. This is why they’re putting more dollars into television advertising even though consumers are spending less time there. This is also why they’re not putting a lot of dollars into mobile, even though consumers are spending more time there. It’s this moment of purgatory… this moment of uncertainty. That all being said, the trend is not towards the desktop PC… much in the same way that the trend in media consumption is with mobile (more than other, traditional, media channels). So, Marketers are going to have to place some bets. The good news is that these bets have some data and trends that come along with them (a couple of aces up the old sleeve, to go along with that gambling analogy). Ultimately, this Blog post may not be contradicting anything I Blogged about yesterday. What we actually see beyond a "snapshot in time" of data is, still, a massive and untapped opportunity.

Who’s up for some big bets?


  1. I agree with and understand what you are saying. It often takes (too much) time for large companies to adjust their thinking and marketing strategies. And today’s younger generation-e.g. 14 and under have “grown” up with cell phones which have rapidly become known as mobile devices. I’m aware of kids who are less than 3 years old who communicate with their grandparents on another continent via Skype. Once these young people enter the work force, the preferences for operating systems and everything else related to technology will change very rapidly. It really is a fascinating world that we live in, even if it is a challenge to try and keep abreast of all the technological changes that are occurring.

  2. I do not see a disconnect between yesterdays piece and today, one is about altitude the other speed, but you need both to fly! I have started to think less about the proverbial “what” and more about the “why”. We too often become fixated on the medium (T.V., mobile, OOH) that it inhibits innovation around the “why do I want to interact in the first place”. Part of that is due to the quantitative aspect of marketing; we look at numbers, where people are, what they are using and segment that data till we’re drowning in data.
    While I’m not discounting the criticality of that information when we look at it in isolation we become too focused on the device. I still maintain that the single biggest influencer in how I purchase is how I actually feel about something. How I feel about my finances and where they are going, how do I feel about my work?. Am I happy, sad or somewhere in between? It is the emotional and qualitative aspects of our day-to-day lives that may be a far greater catalyst to looking at the future of how brands connect with me that the device the message is carried on.
    In any event, enjoyed reading the last two days. I’d rather read something from someone who changes their mind than the usual diatribe of certainty I come across all to often.

  3. Appreciate the data and the commentary and no, it’s not about PC V. Mac and while the trend is moving from predominantly desktop platform to mobile what I find most interesting is the fact advertisers in the face of “purgatory” are spending more on the old stand-by, TV.
    Unfortunately, as I’ve worked my businesses and paid many a “professional” to conduct a marketing campaign, I’ve handed over thousands of dollars to the old stand-by methodologies with few returns.
    I’d argue we’re in a phase of duality, I don’t argue “purgatory”, but we are too in a phase of fear, standard advertisers are afraid to tackle a frontier the “masses” aren’t touting; more money into TV please, it’s easy, unquestioned, big, known by all.
    After I learned to stop throwing my money at the “professionals” and to listen to pioneers carving new trails, I began to see massive ROIs. What I take away from your piece, we’ve still plenty of time to create new methods and adventures while the mass-pandering advertisers throw large sums at a beast that is yielding fewer and fewer returns.

  4. Good post. There is often a world of difference between the changes we can see coming and what the reality of the situation right now is. This dichotomy can be seen in web development as well (I am in marketing now, but I have a background in web design). It is the divide between what is possible using the latest markup and where the market is now.
    Personally, I tend to frame the conversation about emerging trends in media more as future proofing the client’s current efforts, or as an opportunity to get ahead of competitors. If they can then use this to feed their PR or networking efforts as well, so much the better.
    The ideal situation is where I can get them to move to act on emerging trends in a way that benifits their current activity. Otherwise it is speculation that they bear the cost of. Most clients don’t like having to pay for someone else’s bets, even if it seems to be so obvious to those of us in the online marketing fish bowl.
    Unfortunately this situation means that advocating for implementation of schema.org, responsive design and at least getting something optimised for mobile viewing can be hard, some trends are just too obvious to miss. Or to have an excuse for missing.

  5. It boils down to shiny-bright object syndrome a little too frequently than I’d like. As much as I feel like as an early adopter, “everyone must know this,” I’m always amazed to see how people truly are “out in the wild” with what they do. As big as the line-ups are at an Apple store when a new product launches, we can’t lose sight of the majority who don’t see themselves buying another computer until they one they have is beyond repair.

  6. Heh Mitch. Let’s not forget that the data you referenced is for North America. I’m guessing that any businesses aspiring to do, or doing, consumer business in China, South Korea and other fast growing “new” markets will need to be way ahead of the NA curve on mobile!

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