Limelight: Mobile Phones Tops Among Devices for Digital Downloads

A new study from content delivery network (CDN) Limelight Networks shows smartphones have become to dominant device when it comes to digital downloads and content consumption, beating out PCs for the first time.

With 73% of consumers worldwide owning a mobile phone, Limelight’s data makes sense. And it also comes with a concern for everyone involved in content delivery: the smaller the screen, the more impatient people are with downloads, especially millennials. More than a quarter of all digital downloaders said “it takes too long to complete the download,” compared to 23% who reported no frustration with downloading at all. And when things go wrong, they blame their service provider first (41%), ahead of vendors (33%) and the device itself (28%).

“Mobile devices are never more than an arm’s length away — while it’s surprising that they have overtaken the PC and laptop for content downloads, it’s not shocking: widely-reported statistics in 2015 showed the smartphone being utilized more regularly than other devices for accessing the Internet,” said Jason Thibeault, senior director of content marketing for Limelight Networks. “This used to be simply among the Millennial set — now it’s a universal truth.”

Movies and TV shows were the most popular form of content being downloaded on all devices among the 1,100-plus consumers Limelight surveyed, with nearly 17% downloading entertainment on a daily basis. Music came in second at under 15%, while apps were third at 14%. Those daily download numbers jump to 23% for movies, 22% for music and 20% for apps among those who said their cell phone was their primary device for downloads.

Among the content companies, Limelight’s survey found that Google Play was tops among users, with more than 19% downloading content from that service on a daily basis, and nearly 30% saying they downloaded Google Play content every few days. Apple’s iTunes was second in both categories (12% daily and 25% frequently), while Amazon was third (9% and 22%, respectively).

But content owners are facing a stark reality when it comes to consumers placing value on what they download: 51% of respondents to Limelight’s survey said they only download movies and TV shows if they’re free, and 42% said the same about music.

“According to our research, consumers today seem to understand that content has value — and there is a split between those who will pay and those who will download free or pirated content,” the survey reads. “In short, we understand that movies and music shouldn’t be free — and consumers are willing to pay for high-quality content, but like walking past that street vendor, it’s hard to pass up a good deal, even one of questionable legality.”

On the device side, Android smartphones were used by 62% of users to download content, compared to 45% of Android tablet owners and 43% of Apple iPad users.