Behind the growth in mobile browsing
Nearly 31 percent of adult cell phone owners rely mostly on their cell phones
June 28, 2012
There is a reason that mobile advertising is forecast to be the fastest-growing subcategory of new media over the next few years. Not only do nearly half of Americans have cell phones but they're using them increasingly to access the web, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project. More than half of adult cell phone users go online using their mobile phones, and 31 percent say they mostly use their phones to go online, rather than using a laptop or traditional PC. That means fully 17 percent of all adult cell phone users do most of their browsing through their mobile phone, a surprisingly large audience. The reasons behind this trend toward mobile browsing are varied. Some people say the use mobile devices because they're more convenient.Others day it's because they don't have access to any traditional broadband. Aaron W. Smith, senior research specialist at the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, talks to Media Life about who's most likely to be going online with their mobiles, why they are doing so, and why it should matter to media people.
What did you find most interesting or most surprising about this study?
More than half of all adult cell owners now use their phones to go online, and 31 percent of those individuals go online mostly using their mobile phone.
It’s indicative of just how quickly the mobile web has insinuated itself in people’s lives.
What's the most important thing media buyers and planners can take from it?
I unfortunately don’t have any particular insight into the world of media buying/planning.
But broadly speaking, this research is indicative of the central role that mobile access plays in the world of consumers. Many Americans now access the world of digital information through a 4-inch smartphone screen, rather than an 18-inch desktop or laptop environment.
How much has the percentage of cell-mostly internet users grown over the past year? Why?
We asked this question for the first time last year, and at that point 27 percent of cell internet users said they went online mostly using their phone. That is within the margin of error for the 31 percent who said that this year, although the overall number of cell internet users has gotten larger in the meantime.
How long until more than half say that they are cell-mostly internet users? Why?
We generally stay out of the business of projecting future adoption trends so I can’t say how long that will take.
Why are young people so much more apt to use their cells mostly to access the web? Why are minorities so much more apt to be cell-mostly internet users?
As we noted in the report, we weren’t able to conduct a detailed sub-group analysis of the reasons people do most of their browsing on a cell phone.
But when we ask people why they do most of their browsing on their phone, they point to three major reasons: cell phones are convenient and always available, they better fit people’s usage habits than desktop or laptop computers, and they allow for people without traditional broadband access an opportunity to get online.
Are there many people who are using their cells as their primary means of accessing the internet because they have no home connection? How much more prevalent will that become?
Ten percent of those who go online mostly using their phone say that they do this because they lack either a home computer or a broadband connection. How this changes–or not–in the future depends on a number of factors.
What types of activities do people typically do while using the internet on their mobile phones? Why?
We’ll be updating these numbers later this year, but you can find some of the activities people do on their phones here.
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