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Smartphones and smart TVs taking the place of PCs, as consumer habits change worldwide

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Consumers are ditching their PCs and accessing the web through a range of smart devices in greater numbers than ever before.

According to Insider Intelligence’s annual “Global Media Intelligence Report” on key digital trends worldwide, ownership of PCs and/or tablets continues to fall in many countries. Smartphones are already the primary—and sometimes the only—digital device owned by many internet users around the world. As advanced handsets continue to consolidate that position, larger-screen devices may be destined for a secondary role.

Smart TVs are gaining ground as high-quality in-home entertainment becomes a must-have. In all but a handful of countries, smart TV ownership rose by several percentage points year over year.

Adoption of other smart products has accelerated. In 2020, a small minority of internet users polled owned a smartwatch, but momentum was building. That trend continued this year, with penetration climbing significantly in most countries.

In many countries, digital video has overtaken broadcast TV. As in prior years, TV still reaches more consumers worldwide than any other content-based medium. Yet the share of internet users watching digital video now surpasses the share watching live TV in many parts of the world.

The digital audio market is evolving, but radio hasn’t gone away. Broadcast radio’s reach shrank in many markets this year, but time spent with radio hardly changed since 2020.

“2021 is the fourth year that we’ve been privileged to work with GWI and Starcom on the Global Media Intelligence Report,” says Karin von Abrams, principal analyst at Insider Intelligence. “The range and depth of the data they provide is invaluable; the transparency and consistency of the survey methodology are also crucial for us and for our clients, as we aim to understand how device ownership and media habits are changing around the world.”

For each market, traditional and digital media behaviours as well as mobile and nonmobile device penetration rates are available, along with demographic breakouts by age, gender, and income or socioeconomic group. We have expanded coverage this year to include Greece, which joins the 42 countries tracked in last year’s report.

“When, where, and how people consume media continues to evolve, and this is no exception in 2021 as the global pandemic continues to alter our daily routines for a second year,” says Kelly Kokonas, EVP, Global Data Strategy, Publicis Media-Starcom. “For markets across the spectrum of smart and mobile tech adoption and digital video maturity, this report provides deep, cross-market insights on how people of all demographics and backgrounds are empowered by technology and experiencing their world in new ways.”

The Global Media Intelligence Report is Insider Intelligence’s largest, most comprehensive snapshot of the current state of media consumption worldwide, covering 43 countries in six major regions—Asia-Pacific, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, Middle East and Africa, North America, and Western Europe. In addition, this year’s report contains nearly 500 charts for all local markets—based on data that Publicis and GWI helped identify and gather through their global network—in addition to benchmarks, analysis, and context provided by Insider Intelligence.

Jason Mander, chief research officer at research partner GWI, explains, “We have been paying close attention to the impact the pandemic has had across the planet. For the second year in a row, we see the pandemic as a major influence on both media consumption and device ownership. Some countries have been affected more intensely or differently this year than last. Of course, many internet users had already experienced the types of restrictions imposed during the first phase of the health crisis in 2020, so we might have expected little change in their media behavior in 2021. That was true in some cases—but in others, a second year of the pandemic seems to have prompted significant shifts. For example, in many countries digital video has overtaken broadcast TV. Subscription video-on-demand products enjoyed a big boost in 2021, suggesting many internet users who resisted the appeal of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and other providers last year finally gave in to temptation as the pandemic continued.”

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