As we increasingly use mobile devices and download new apps, it is only natural that consumer views about the internet are changing. But more surprisingly - and ultimately more importantly - our fundamental views on the physical world are changing too. This report from Ericsson ConsumerLab shows that as consumers spend more time in front of screens, they also expect other physical things to be interactive and connected.

"Analyzing the expanding use of mobile devices and services in the light of how particularly younger generations are moving from passive to interactive screens has been an eye opener," says Michael Björn, Head of Research at Ericsson ConsumerLab. "When total screen time surpasses the time spent on any other everyday activity, including work, consumers may expect the world to behave like their screens."

Figure: Weekly number of hours spent doing activities in front of a screen; with younger generations shifting from passive to interactive screens.

Key findings

Computers and the internet initially mimicked the physical world

Until now, digital environments were designed to reflect the actual world, in order for us to understand them. But consumers are becoming less dependent on references to physical things such as desktops, files, folders, trashcans and telephone lines.

Firsthand experiences are increasingly via screens

People are now exposed to screens from a young age, so the relationship between screen and physical experiences is being reversed.

We now want the physical world to mimic the internet

There will be a growing expectation for the physical world to be as interactive as our screens. Things should respond to touch and be able to handle information.

It is clear that our expectation for everyday places and objects to be as connected and interactive as the screens we have today will drive consumer demand for a rapidly expanding internet of things.

Read the report


This report collects insights from several recent projects with a view to exploring how consumers are starting to think about the world as an internet of things. Ericsson ConsumerLab gains its knowledge through a global consumer research program based on interviews with 100,000 individuals each year, in more than 40 countries and 15 megacities – statistically representing the views of 1.1 billion people.