One of the many factors that keen analysts of the tech space keep an eye on is the relative trending interest in internet traffic conducted via desktop or mobile platforms. Since the early days of the internet, this balance has naturally been heavily weighted towards desktop platforms. Early modems and dialups provided connectivity to computers after all, and not to cellular phones! As late as 2013, just 16% of global traffic was serving mobile devices.

However, ever since the rise and continued development of the modern smartphone, internet traffic has increasingly been siphoned away from desktops towards mobile phones. Today, it is estimated that more than half of all internet traffic is conducted via mobile phone. This naturally has significant implications for all manners of content and interest catered to by internet services and websites, as well as for the design and accessibility of this content.

For example, because Google searches are increasingly being conducted by users of mobile devices, savvy developers and entrepreneurs have been taking steps to fine tune their content for presentation and performance on this platform rather than desktops. So called mobile-first design is very much in vogue as competing sites and services jostle for higher ranking and greater visibility in an ever-crowded marketplace. Indeed, well over half of Google searches last year were done on mobile phones, meaning that legacy websites set up in years gone by when desktops were the dominant browsers have struggled to maintain their performance.

Yet with this clear trend having marched seemingly inexorably further towards favouring mobile over the past decade, recent events have called into question for how long this trend will continue into the future or even if it will continue to do so at all. The coronavirus pandemic has very much come to define the extraordinary year of 2020. Disruption to peoples’ lives and livelihoods have impacted all aspects of society, and online activity is certainly no different. The New York Times conducted some early investigating into the emerging trends of our changing behaviour as a direct result of the health emergency.

While it might not surprise you that internet traffic has spiked during periods of prolonged lockdowns and social distancing – we’re all at home stuck on our phones with little else to do after all – what might strike you as counterintuitive is that the trending march towards ever-increasingly skewed mobile-dominance is seemingly slowing down or potentially even reversing. They found that desktops were making somewhat of a comeback as more and more users were finding themselves at home near their desktop computers. Why search for information or browse sites via apps or in small-screen browsers on your phone when your computer is right next to you?

UK Search Engine Traffic

These contradictions in the tech space have made it very difficult for prognosticators and talking heads in our favourite media to make sense of where we are heading with regards to this issue. For example, while gaming overall is up, in fact extremely significantly up, as a result of folks locked inside with tempting video games to distract them from their remote work or otherwise fill their newly found free time, over 50% of the users searching for the best UK slot sites come from mobile devices. So while there are clear patterns in some regards towards a shift back to desktop, such as an increasingly marked preference for websites over apps for our consumption of TV and film media, it seems that our mobile phones are still a preferred platform for other hobbies, such as visiting online casinos.

These kinds of paradoxes are what make following the developing tech scene so fascinating and exhilarating. While it poses a challenge to businesses looking to leverage growing interests and maximize profits from soaring trends, the flipside is that it creates a foundation upon which skilled market analysis and technical innovation are richly rewarded. Moving forwards, expect to see the market make up their mind on whether mobile or desktop should be a primary focus for SEO and other internet-related activities such as gambling. Naturally, the relative success or failure in the fight against the coronavirus will strongly influence this determination.