When radio started to get developed, many people feared it would decrease book reading and potentially replace the consumption of news in the press. In the same way, home computers, and the internet reduced the time people spent watching TV. The same issue appeared with the development of mobile devices, and even more when 4G got introduced around 2014.
This study examines whether the increased use of mobile devices for news content, entertainment, gaming, and sports content decreases the use of PCs for the same categories of content. It focuses on two theories: displacement and substitution.
Substitution is a temporary replacement of one medium by another medium while displacement is a permanent replacement of one medium by another medium over time for some specific functions. There are two types of displacement that exist: competitive replacement or total exclusion. Basically, this study focuses on how PCs and mobile devices compete for people’s attention and how much time people spend on each of them.
The study collected data from the month of October (free from any event like the Olympics of election campaigns) of participants usage of both PCs and mobile devices regarding news content, finance, entertainment, gaming, sports, and social.
The results show an increase in mobile device consumption when 4G was released, before stabilizing and cohabiting with PCs. By 2016, the usage level of mobile devices has reached an equilibrium without replacing much PC usage. The two mediums, therefore, have a complementary relationship, for one does not totally replace the other: people who consume news content on mobile devices still consume news content on PCs.
The limits of this study include the location in South Korea only, and among Android users only for Apple does not let a third party access data information. Adding to that, the study fails to take into account the “double screen” effect, that is to say, the use of both screens at the same time.
Su Jung Kim, Vijay Viswanathan, and Hye Mi Lee (2020) Platform War vs. Platform Synergy? A Longitudinal Analysis of Media Substitution between Personal Computers and Mobile Devices, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, Vol. 64, No. 2, 65-88, DOI: 10.1080/08838151.2020.1718986