Smartphones replace personal computers as the go-to devices for downloading content

Limelight Networks, Inc., which specializes in digital content delivery, today unveiled the results of its annual State of Digital Downloads report, the latest in its studies of consumer perceptions and behaviors around digital content. The study found nearly half (45%) of consumers are more likely to download digital content of all types than they were a year ago. 

In just the past few months the smartphone has displaced the personal computer as the dominant device for the download and consumption of content. More users downloaded content onto Android-based smartphones (62%), while Apple’s iPad (used by 43%), was nearly tied with Android tablets (45%). As such, the Google Play store led the way as the prevalent destination for content downloads.

And what are people downloading on these mobile devices and when are they most likely to do so? Beyond OS updates, consumers are leaning mostly toward entertainment: new apps (33%), video games (18%), and movies and TV shows (13%). The bulk of downloading occurs at night—indicating that like the golden age of television, the hours of 6 p.m.-midnight are “prime time” for acquiring and consuming entertainment. More than 40% download movies and TV shows during these hours, with 35% similarly downloading video games and music.

Jason Thibeault, senior director, content marketing at Limelight Networks, says the shift to wireless devices has brought a swing in expectations—the smaller the screen, the greater the impatience, particularly among Millennial users. A slowdown or interruption in downloads leads to consumer frustration as 26% cite “it takes too long to complete the download” as the most significant impediment to enjoying a great digital experience.

Blame is directed toward mobile carriers or cable broadband providers. This is particularly true among younger users—they download the most content, are the most easily frustrated, and quickest to ascribe blame when the download experience was less than optimal.

The State of Digital Downloads study is part of Limelight Network’s series of annual surveys exploring consumer perceptions and behavior around digital content. The survey was conducted by a third-party organization with access to U.S. and international consumer panels. In all, 1,136 consumers ranging in age, gender and education completed the survey.