Mobile // Mobile Devices
11:05 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman

Mobile Internet Use Surges To 59% Of Adults

According to the latest Pew study, 59% of all American adults are accessing the Internet and Web applications wirelessly, up from 51% a year ago.

My father, age 62, recently bought his first smartphone. He dumped the feature phone he'd been using the last two years and went with an HTC Droid Incredible on Verizon Wireless' network. He's but one more addition to the growing population of smartphone users who are frequently accessing data and applications from their devices wirelessly.

Pew Research Center notes that now 59% of adults in the U.S. are using wireless technology in one form or the other. Pew's definition of "going wireless" includes using Wi-Fi from a laptop or using mobile IM, email, or a mobile browser from a cell phone. Pew says that 47% of adults use Wi-Fi, but only 40% use mobile devices for email and such. These numbers are up from 39% and 32%, respectively, when compared to 2009. (Pew defines "adults" as those aged 18 and up.)

Pew polled users to see exactly what it is they are doing with their devices. Here's part of the breakdown of mobile activities:

  • 54% have used their mobile device to send someone a photo or video.
  • 23% have accessed a social networking site using their phone.
  • 20% have used their phone to watch a video.
  • 15% have posted a photo or video online.
  • 11% have purchased a product using their phone.
  • 11% have made a charitable donation by text message.
  • 10% have used their mobile phone to access a status update service such as Twitter.
I fall into the category of users who do all of these activities nearly every single day. My father isn't quite there yet, but he has already sent some pictures and videos from his phone of a recent vacation he took.

Notable is that young adults aged 18 to 29 are the heaviest users of mobile services. Here's what that group of users is doing with their cell phones:

  • 95% send or receive text messages.
  • 93% use their phone to take pictures.
  • 81% send photos or videos to others.
  • 65% access the internet on their mobile device.
  • 64% play music on their phones.
  • 60% use their phones to play games or record a video.
  • 52% have used their phone to send or receive email.
  • 48% have accessed a social networking site on their phone.
  • 46% use instant messaging on their mobile device.
  • 40% have watched a video on their phone.
  • 33% have posted a photo or video online from their phone.
  • 21% have used a status update service such as Twitter from their phone.
  • 20% have purchased something using their mobile phone.
  • 19% have made a charitable donation by text message.
I don't think there's anything on the above list that I haven't done at least once. The capability of smartphones seems to increase nearly every week as new models hit the market with new apps and services on board. The pace of innovation and the adoption rate of those innovations will only continue to climb. Next year, don't be surprised to see these numbers even higher across all age groups. What will be more interesting than higher numbers, though, will be what new things we're doing with our phones. I can't wait to see what they are.

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