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What you don’t know about the ‘second screen’ and ‘utility’ behaviors of mobile users

Much has been made of the concept that mobile devices are a “second screen” companion to watching television. But those working in mobile also caution there’s more to understand than that.

Mobile devices are a “second screen” at work as well. The desktop computer is equivalent to the TV — it’s supposed to be the main focus, but people simultaneously use their phones for complementary services or diversions.

Outside a workplace, when people are on their free time, the mobile device increasingly becomes a primary screen. Certainly this is true on-the-go when people are away from other devices. But even at home, the smartphone is increasingly a primary screen for many users, with the TV on in the background as a second screen, according to the internal data shared at the summit. The phone may actually command more attention than the TV program, or certainly the commercials.

When people are on their free time, the mobile device increasingly becomes a primary screen.

Another common misconception is that people mainly use their smartphones for utility, to save time and accomplish tasks. They certainly do sometimes, but people also use their phones to waste time with entertainment or games, BuzzFeed’s Dao Nguyen explained.

The better way to think about it, we heard, is that people use their phones to take control of their time and to spend it how they want. Whether busy or bored, the smartphone helps a user restore control over how their time is spent.

This understanding presents opportunities for publishers on either end of a spectrum — helping people save time or improve their lives through useful news and services, or helping people pass time through entertainment and indulging their passions.

Whether busy or bored, the smartphone helps a user restore control over how their time is spent.

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