Making Waves: The Importance of Device Reach and Growth Trends

Launching a device in the market is like dropping a pebble in a pond – both have exponential growth possibilities and affect other objects in waves and trends. The size of the pebble dropped determines the waves it makes, and, according to our recent Verto Analytics’ Device Ecosystem US 2014 report, some devices make bigger splashes than others.

It’s clear that more consumers are using certain devices than others. Cell phones, video game consoles, portable media devices, and e-book readers saw a decline in users in 2014, while smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, and streaming media devices were able to grow their reach among US consumers. Smart TVs alone saw a growth rate of 25% – there are 45 million US consumers using Smart TVs for Youtube, Netflix, apps and browsing web for example in addition to the features of traditional TV sets.

The contrast between the rise and fall of these devices directly correlates with the fact that consumers want a device that is more than a one-trick pony. They want a device that is capable of doing many things from streaming media services to reading, and from web browsing to checking emails. Millions of people purchased a smartphone and/or tablet for the first time in 2014, for this reason. These devices accounted for 150 and 107 million US adult users respectively – an increase of 10% to 11%. This increase reveals that consumers replaced their old devices for smartphones and tablets in order to gain convenience as well as a one-stop-device for all their needs. It’s still important to note, however, that neither smartphones nor tablets have cornered the market on the ability to do everything either.

Interestingly, wearable computers, like smartwatches, made their own ripples. While not having the greatest number of users, they saw an increase of +81% from Q1 to Q4 2014. It should be noted, though, that while wearables still remain a relatively niche market, companies should recognize that consumer demand for these devices will only increase along with the technology.

Beyond just looking at usage and growth, there are some definite trends within the device market. The overall number of devices owned by the U.S. consumer remained stable, growing only marginally from 1.10 billion to 1.12 billion, or from 4.5 to 4.6 devices per person. Companies looking to take advantage of growing trends would be better served by looking at specific devices that are still on the growth trajectory rather than facing market saturation.

Another stable trend seems to be the popularity of PCs. PCs still maintain the highest reach, but are trending downward in ownership by 2%. The downward trend is likely also due to users switching to smartphones and tablets, which can perform many of the same functions.

It is clear that device growth and trends will continue to move forward just like the next wave or reflected ripples in a pond. Understanding these fluctuations and trends in the device market will allow companies to engage with consumers, see how they use their devices, and better maximize the numerous opportunities within the digital ecosystem — both now and in the future.