HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Ken Doctor: The New York Times’ financials show the transition to digital accelerating
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
June 26, 2012, 5:34 p.m.
Mobile & Apps
iphones-shorter-cc

New Pew data: There’s a good (and growing) chance you’re reading this on your phone

The younger you are, the more likely it is that you mainly use a phone to go online.

A majority of American adults who have cell phones are now using them to go online, according to a study out today from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. And, within that group, 31 percent of those adults use their phones for the majority of their Internet access.

But the numbers get even more striking when you look at younger demographics. Among adults 18-29 who use the Internet on their phones, a remarkable 45 percent do most of their web surfing there. And for all age groups, preferences are shifting away from desktops and laptops and toward mobile devices.

(Need any more evidence you need to make sure that mobile version of your website looks good and works well?)

Pew’s most recent data comes from a three-week phone survey of 2,254 adults that concluded in April, but the center first began tracking the percentage of people who use cell phones to go online in April 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 told. “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].”

Smith characterizes the reliance on mobile phones for Internet access as “not only very fast but widespread,” meaning that more people across age and socioeconomic demographics are increasingly using phones to go online.

The age breakdown: For adults 50 or older, 11 percent of cell Internet users use their phones for most of their access. For adults 30 to 49, it’s 29 percent. And, as mentioned above, it’s 45 percent for 18- to 29-year-olds. (Pew didn’t look at teens in this study, but you don’t need a researcher to tell you they like their phones.)

Two-thirds of those surveyed cited convenience — the chance to be online anywhere, and at any time — as the top reason for accessing the Internet by phone. A handful of responders credited cell phones with being easier to use, while others said phones were their only way to access the Internet from home. (Consistent with previous years’ findings, those with lower incomes and less education were more likely to report using cell phones for the majority of their Internet use.)

So what kinds of numbers can we expect three years from now? Cell phone ubiquity and more mobile Internet reliance seem clear. Smith says the data from April’s survey came as no surprise but he won’t speculate on what’s to come.

“One of the things that we have learned is there could be something that someone is developing in their garage tomorrow that could completely blow any projection we — or anyone else could make — completely out of the water,” he said.

Photo by Yutaka Tsutano used under a Creative Commons license.

POSTED     June 26, 2012, 5:34 p.m.
SEE MORE ON Mobile & Apps
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Ken Doctor: The New York Times’ financials show the transition to digital accelerating
The numbers may look flat, but they contain a continuing set of ups and downs. Up next: executing on a year’s worth of launches.
Before the “teaching hospital model” of journalism education: 5 questions to ask
It’ll take a new generation of academic leadership — willing to incur the wrath of faculty, the greater university, alumni, industry, and analysts — to break through the old ways we train journalists.
Controlled chaos: As journalism and documentary film converge in digital, what lessons can they share?
Old and new media types from journalism, documentary, and technology backgrounds gathered at MIT to share practices and discuss mutual concerns.
What to read next
1020
tweets
The newsonomics of the millennial moment
The new wave of news startups is aiming at a younger audience. But do legacy media companies have a chance at earning their attention?
803A mixed bag on apps: What The New York Times learned with NYT Opinion and NYT Now
The two apps were part of the paper’s plan to increase digital subscribers through smaller, targeted offerings. Now, with staff cutbacks on the way, one app is being shuttered and the other is being adjusted.
413The new Vox daily email, explained
The company’s newsletter, Vox Sentences, enters an increasingly crowded inbox. Can concise writing and smart aggregation on the day’s news help expand their audience?
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
Medium
Facebook
Twitter
Houston Chronicle
The Washington Post
Kaiser Health News
Detroit Free Press and Detroit News
Honolulu Civil Beat
Tumblr
Fox News
The Daily Telegraph
Baristanet