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I’ve been thinking about this disruption that mobility offers, more specifically about whether or not individuals need multiple computing devices.  With the tablets gaining traction thanks to affordable price points, and synching technologies that mare positioned to make your data ever more accessible, I wonder whether or not we are observing a shift in the computing platforms and as such a reduction in the number of platforms that each individual owns.

To satisfy this curiosity, I turned to data collected from the Network Control System for my university.  This system has over 16,000 unique devices that are registered to over 5,000 users.  This suggests that the average person has three devices registered in this system.  But what it doesn’t say is what these devices are.  So I drilled down deeper, to get a better since of what the distribution of devices per user is.  Looking at the number of actual devices registered per user reveals …

  • 21% of the users only have one device registered
  • 38% of the users have two devices registered
  • 24% of the users have three devices registered
  • 17% of the users have four or more devices registered

Drilling even further I identified that of those users who have only one device registered, 29% of these devices are laptops, but 37% are mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets.  This is pretty interesting.

However when we look at the group of users who have registered two devices, 76% of these users have registered an iPhone and a laptop.  When we look at the group that have registered three devices, 85% of these users have an iPhone and a laptop included in this three device total.  So what do these numbers tell us?

For me it suggests that we are not yet at a point that we can condense our computing platform to a single device.  Even though smartphone manufactures have devised methods to decrease the dependencies of tethering smartphones to laptops, the average user recognizes that each platform has unique strengths and weaknesses.  So while we may be able to disconnect our smartphones or tablets from our laptops, it appears that we still need each for different purposes or reasons.

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