Multi-Screen Mania: 90% of People Use Multiple Devices to Accomplish One Goal

If an Apple iPad and a Samsung television were in a Western movie together, you’d probably envision some serious bloodshed. After all, Apple and Samsung hate each other.

But you’d be wrong. Picture the two, hands on holsters, backs turned to each other, set to spin around and shoot on the count of three. Only they wouldn’t. Because one would flip the classic line on its head and say, “This town is easily big enough for the two of us.”

Indeed, screens get along gloriously these days. A recent Google study suggests that 90% of people engage in this technological luxury, simultaneously using their smartphone, desktop, tablet, or television.

Google’s study, which Canadian startup Mobify describes as “one of the largest and best-sourced research projects” on the topic, suggests  that 77% of the time we’re watching TV, we’re using another device (half of that time it’s a smartphone, one-third of that time it’s a laptop). And the iPad screams complementary: 75% of the time we’re using a tablet, we’re using another device. In fact, more than half the time we’re using a smartphone, we’re using another device along with it!

But it’s not that we’re playing a game on our PlayBook with one hand and surfing the web on our Samsung Galaxy S III with the other. While simultaneous usage is common, it’s more common to engage in what Google calls “sequential” usage: when a user moves instantly from one device to another in pursuit of a single goal.

“We found that nine out of ten people use multiple screens sequentially and that smartphones are by far the most common starting point for sequential activity,” Google writes. “So completing a task like booking a flight online or managing personal finances doesn’t just happen in one sitting on one device. In fact, 98% of sequential screeners move between devices in the same day to complete a task.”