Just want to lay out an idea on the consumer adoption process for the 4 screens that dominate our eyes: TV, laptop, smartphone, and tablet. It isn’t based on any data outside of anecdotal evidence and my own thoughts, and it isn’t fully baked, so thoughts and comments are very much appreciated.

4 Screens Adoption Process

Figure. Adoption Process for 4 Screens
Sources: None really

My hypothesis is that consumers move through a “hierarchy of needs” (à la Maslow’s hierarchy) when considering the purchase of any one of the screens, and they won’t move up to the higher levels until the ones below it have been addressed (either by purchasing or explicitly deciding not to purchase the associated device). Therefore, if you don’t own a TV, you probably won’t consider buying a tablet.

The TV sits at the bottom of the hierarchy as the first device that a consumer considers purchasing; tablet PCs sit at the top as the last “need” to be fulfilled. At each level in the hierarchy, the consumer also has some substitutes that they consider. For example, a person considering a smartphone might instead opt to buy an iPod Touch and stick with a feature phone.

This process is then repeated starting at the base level for each additional purchase. That implies that someone that has purchased the first 3 levels would first consider upgrading those devices before purchasing a tablet. If there are no worthy upgrades available, then they’d go for the tablet. Or maybe someone considered a TV but then settled on a tablet; before upgrading the tablet, they would first consider buying a TV again.