Super Bowl Calling

February 03, 2012

Ever pull out your smartphone during a big game to check a player stat?  Or fire up the iPad to look up a particular team record?  You’re not alone.  What the business calls the “two screen experience” is more and more common.  And it is likely to be epidemic during this weekend’s Super Bowl.

By Eric Rabe, Fels Senior Advisor

According to a new survey, 60 percent of mobile phone users say they’ll turn to smartphones and tablet computers even while they have the biggest screen in their home showing Sunday’s game and delivering a stream of arcane trivia.  

In fact, 80 percent tell Harris Interactive in a survey conducted by Velti that they’ll use their mobile devices more than they did during the 2011 Super Bowl.  If you’re over 18, that means you’re likely to turn to your phone or tablet 10 times during the game – or 20 times if you are 18-34.  Mostly during commercials.

In part, advertisers have themselves to blame.  They use those expensive Super Bowl TV ads to raise awareness more often than to specifically sell products.  That means sponsors will offer lots of web links to lure viewers to more information online.

Going online from a mobile device is a dramatic shift that’s now underway.  Telecom companies report that about 40 percent of phones in use today are smartphones with full web capabilities. Apple’s wildly successful iPad has driven not only mobile computing by iPad customers but also a huge surge in sales of alternative Android-based tablets from all makers and led by Amazon’s Kindle Fire.  In fact, Android tablets have now surpassed Apple’s iPad in total sales.  We are simply relying less on desktop and laptop computers to reach the Internet.

There’s good news in this from a public policy standpoint too.  Because smartphones and tablets tend to be less expensive than laptops or desktop machines, and the charges to access the network are lower too, the Internet is becoming more easily affordable for those with lower incomes.

Local governments are not missing the point.  In a Fels Promising Practices report due out in a few weeks, government leaders tell us they are depending more and more on social media and smart phone applications to reach constituents and deliver services.

So as you reach for that cell phone to take a second look at Madonna doing the Victor Cruz salsa dance, or pick up the tablet to remind yourself that Tom Brady really has completed almost 40,000 yards passing in his career (39,979), the person on the couch won’t be annoyed.   He’ll probably be on his smartphone too.

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