Generally speaking, people are spending increasing amounts of time consuming digital media content and entertainment online. Regardless of whether that consists of watching the latest TV shows and movies or indulging in a few hours of sports betting online, the trends are firmly upwards.
However, putting aside the question of what type of content they are consuming for a moment, an equally interesting question is how they are consuming it.
Although this might not seem like a particularly important question at first glance, it is something digital content and entertainment producers are increasingly having to consider. This is because not every content producer will have an equal amount of resources to devote to developing content optimized for mobile devices as it will for desktop platforms. Similarly, different kinds of content will perform better on mobile devices versus desktop.
Another factor in answering this question relates to the usage statistics of users themselves. For example, a 2019 survey found that 53% of the total web traffic came from mobile users. Notably, a more recent 2022 survey has found that this figure increased to 59.4%
Although this might not seem like too significant an increase, particularly given the proliferation of mobile devices in recent years, it nonetheless clearly shows that the trend is towards mobile internet consumption.
This trend is certainly something that digital content and entertainment producers should keep in mind as they allocate production resources in the months and years to come. With this trend in mind, the question still remains: Is mobile better for entertainment?
What are the differences between mobile and desktop entertainment?
As we can clearly see, mobile devices account for a growing amount of our total internet usage. While this might differ on an individual level between different users, the trend is clearly upwards on average. But what are the main differences between consuming media on mobile devices versus desktop platforms?
- Portability: As the name suggests, mobile devices are inherently more portable than desktop platforms. The ability to take your device anywhere you want to be able to consume media is a big reason why mobile usage has shot up in recent years. These devices are being used to do a range of tasks on the go, which includes everything from communicating with friends and family, to social media, online shopping and indulging in different forms of entertainment.
- Dedicated apps: Although apps are not uncommon on desktop platforms, mobile devices tend to have a greater variety of dedicated apps for a range of different functions. Some of the most popular entertainment mobile apps include social media apps, video on demand apps and games. In contrast, many desktop users prefer to do most things through web-browsers rather than using dedicated apps. This is particularly true for individuals consuming media, with many entertainment platforms not having desktop apps.
- Internet speed: Most mobile devices used by individuals to consume media and entertainment will have both Wi-Fi and mobile data connectivity. In contrast, desktop apps tend only to connect via Wi-Fi. This also has an impact on the portability of desktops vs mobiles!
- Computing speed: Another major difference between mobile devices and desktops relates to the power of the hardware they have to play with. The importance of this difference will obviously depend on the form of content you are consuming, with not all media types equally as demanding of the hardware. For example, desktop gaming hardware tends to be significantly more powerful than mobile devices, which has a big impact on usage.
Mobile vs desktop: Which is better?
Although they once had a relatively narrow function — that is, to make and receive calls — today’s mobile devices are incredibly sophisticated. Mobile phones have evolved incredibly rapidly over the last two decades and now sport a seemingly endless number of functions. With new devices coming out multiple times each year, the pace of technological development is unrelenting!
The rapid development and release cycles of mobile device manufacturers has created incredibly advanced devices that are increasingly powerful. This has progressed to such an extent that in many respects, the technological divide between mobile devices and desktop platforms is beginning to narrow. Save for a few key hardware areas, they offer much of the same functionality.
Despite this, mobile devices have several key advantages over desktop platforms, which are particularly relevant in the entertainment space:
- Convenience: Mobile devices are inherently more convenient. They are generally lightweight, easy to set up and use, and are only limited by their battery life.
- Multi-functional: Mobile devices have several functions and can handle everything from making phone calls and texting, to taking photos and listening to music. This has an obvious appeal to those wanting to reduce the number of devices they have!
Nevertheless, as entertainment devices, they do come with some limitations:
- Screen size: Portability comes with the obvious downside of being smaller. How much this matters will vary between different media types, although it is a definite drawback for games and movies.
- Interruptions: Many users indulge in different forms of entertainment as a way of escaping reality for a few hours. This is particularly true of movies and games, which provide an incredible form of escapism. However, if you are watching movies or playing online games on mobile devices then you will have to deal with the deluge of notifications and messages you will inevitably receive.
- Battery life: In contrast to desktop platforms which are plugged in, mobile devices typically rely on battery power. Although battery technology is improving all the time, it still has its limits.
We can see that there are some clear advantages and disadvantages to consuming digital media and entertainment on mobile devices. However, whether one is better than the other will also depend on the type of content you are consuming.
In the online betting industry, for example, an overwhelming number of individual users use mobiles as their primary devices. This contrasts with digital streaming and video-on-demand, which tend to lean firmly in favor of desktops. The question of whether mobiles or desktops are better ultimately depends on the individual and what their preferences are.