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11/10/2011
11:23 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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Awkward Social Situation? Smartphone To The Rescue

More than half of you use your trusty smartphones to look busy during a sticky social moment, says a Yahoo poll that reveals some other interesting stats.

You know you've been there. You're with colleagues or friends, and suddenly something really awkward happens. Rather than deal with the situation, you quietly pull out your smartphone and pretend you didn't see anything. When there's no other way to get out of a sticky social situation, 52% of respondents to a Yahoo poll will turn to their trusty smartphone for safety. Women use their phones as an excuse more often than men do, reported the survey.

Yahoo Mobile and Razorfish polled some 2,000 U.S. smartphone users and asked about their multitasking habits and smartphone device preferences. In addition to overall usage trends, Yahoo discovered some interesting divides along gender lines.

Unsurprisingly, 75% of all respondents listed their smartphone as the most-used device in their household. It's no wonder, as modern smartphones serve as workstations, email machines, search terminals, social networking tools, cameras, music/video devices, gaming handhelds, and life organizers.

Nine in ten said that they use their smartphones to multitask, especially when watching television. Most often people send text messages, make phone calls, or check social networks during commercials.

[Will the news that Republic Wireless Offers $19 Unlimited Android Plan make smartphone multitasking even more common?]

Smartphone users regularly use the devices to check facts while watching television. The Yahoo poll revealed that 58% of men polled check facts while watching live sporting events and 47% use their smartphones to check the scores of other games and follow their fantasy league players. With all this fact-checking going on, 29% of the men admitted that using their device to check for sports news/scores caused arguments with their significant other, while only 17% of the women admitted to the same. On the flip side, however, 65% of the women under age 35 said that they surf the Web while watching TV, while only 47% of the men the same age do.

The good news is that men are making progress in the "asking for directions" department. Yahoo says that 59% of male poll respondents are using their smartphone to find directions and map routes to destinations. (Gas station owners must be wondering where all their business has gone.)

Yahoo's data also shows that the device being used plays a role in for which subjects the user searches. Example: 77% of desktop and laptop users say the things they search for while watching TV are not related to the show they are watching. Tablet users, however, are far more likely to use their devices to search for content related to the show they are watching, at 57%.

When it comes to mobile shopping, male smartphone users are more likely to be making purchases, though only slightly so. Yahoo notes that 70% of polled men under age 35 make online purchases through their smartphones, compared to 64% of women under age 35.

Last, Yahoo notes that men are more likely to look at their smartphone as a Swiss Army Knife, and use it for a wider range of tasks. That means communication, searching, purchasing, and so on. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to use their smartphone primarily as a communications tool, including social networking, messaging, and making phone calls.

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