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article imagePew survey: Rising number of Americans use cellphone to go online

By Leigh Goessl     Jun 26, 2012 in Internet
A new survey shows over half of Americans use their cellphone to go online, and 17 percent of cellphone owners do most of their browsing via a mobile phone rather than use a computer or laptop.
The survey, conducted by The Pew Internet & American Life Project, found that as of April 2012, about 90 percent of American adults have a cellphone, and of those, 55 percent use it to connect to the Web. Pew has been tracking mobile use to access the Internet since 2009.
“In the space of three years, we’ve seen the proportion of cell owners who do this almost double,” Pew senior research specialist Aaron Smith said. “Depending on where you start the clock on the consumer smartphone revolution — most people do that with the introduction of the iPhone in June 2007 — within the space of five years we’ve gone from basically zero to half the country, with a sizable percentage using cell phones as their main source [to go online].”
"When asked what device they normally use to access the internet, 31% of cell phone internet users say that they mostly go online using their cell phone. Meanwhile, six in ten cell internet users (60%) say that they mostly go online using some other type of device, such as a desktop, laptop, or tablet computer", Pew wrote.
The first group was referred to as “cell-mostly internet users", and the latter, "cell-occasionally internet users.” Pew said the cell-mostly group represents 17% of total adult cell phone owners in the U.S.
Another interesting finding was, perhaps not surprisingly, convenience weighed in as a factor which determined online access through a cellphone, but the survey also found some respondents said their mobile phone was their only option to get online.
Cellphone use to go online broken down by age:
Adults age 50+: 11 percent
Adults age 30 - 49: 29 percent
Adults age 18 - 29: 45 percent
It's not just routine surfing and email checking that is likely growing, but m-commerce too. It had previously been established that mobile use was anticipated to explode in popularity in this area. Several industries have been preparing for this next generation of commerce. Not too long ago PayPal predicted the traditional wallet would be "dead" by 2015, which is, perhaps not coincidentally, in alignment with 2010 research that predicts consumers will spend $119 billion by 2015 through their mobile phones.
The survey took place from March 15 - April 3, with 2,254 adult participants, ages 18 and older; 903 interviews took place on the respondent's cellphone. Margin of error was noted by Pew to be +/-3.7 percentage points.
When the Who sung about "Going Mobile" back in the early 1970s its reference was far different than what the term "mobile" means in 2012. Fast-forward a few decades and the term has taken on a whole new meaning completely, and, if recent studies are any indicator, modern mobile is perhaps moving much faster than any other type in days gone past.
The future of mobile technology seems secure. After all, another study from late last year found a growing number of teenagers would choose a smartphone over a car.
The full results of the survey, which includes other statistics, can be found here.
More about Pew research center survey, Pew research center, Americans, United States, Online
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