Four in 10 adults rely on mobile, go online more

Articles
April 16, 2009

Four in 10 adults rely on mobile, go online more

As consumers shape new communications patterns, CPG marketers and retailers need to reach them effectively in the emerging ways they want. Today they need to head online. Mobile Internet access is making people more frequent online users, both in wired and wireless ways. Nearly four in 10 adults (39%) told the latest survey of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project that they go online more since they’ve been relying more on mobile devices, and they have more positive feelings about doing so. This is akin to the way the telephone answering machine led to more returned and completed calls, and spurred more telephone use overall, in the 1980s. Mobile connectivity is a powerful differentiator among technology users. “For a sizable minority of Americans, mobile connectivity expands their digital horizons as they do more with their suite of wireline and wireless tools,” said John B. Horrigan, associate director of the Pew Project and author of the typology report, The Mobile Difference. “Mobile services complement existing broadband assets, and these Americans find it increasingly hard to be without their connectivity traveling with them as they go.”

As consumers shape new communications patterns, CPG marketers and retailers need to reach them effectively in the emerging ways they want. Today they need to head online. Mobile Internet access is making people more frequent online users, both in wired and wireless ways.

Nearly four in 10 adults (39%) told the latest survey of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project that they go online more since they’ve been relying more on mobile devices, and they have more positive feelings about doing so.

This is akin to the way the telephone answering machine led to more returned and completed calls, and spurred more telephone use overall, in the 1980s.

Mobile connectivity is a powerful differentiator among technology users. “For a sizable minority of Americans, mobile connectivity expands their digital horizons as they do more with their suite of wireline and wireless tools,” said John B. Horrigan, associate director of the Pew Project and author of the typology report, The Mobile Difference.  “Mobile services complement existing broadband assets, and these Americans find it increasingly hard to be without their connectivity traveling with them as they go.”

The study segments information and communication technology (ICT) users into 10 categories built around the gadgets they have, how they use them, and how they feel about their role in their lives.

Viewing a richer digital life positively are: Digital Collaborators (8% of adults) who collaborate with others to create content and express themselves online; Media Movers (7%) who share digital content with others; and Roving Nodes (9%) who connect via mobile to enhance personal productivity.

More filled with tension about it are: Ambivalent Networkers (7%) who social network via mobile but lament being so available to others; and Mobile Newbies (8%) who are become accustomed to cell phones, and like how they help them stay in touch with others.

Both of the above groups are motivated by mobility, says Pew. Two-thirds of them (66%) say it would be “very hard” to give up their mobile devices. This is 20% higher than in the prior Pew survey taken 20 months earlier, in April 2006.

The remaining 61% comprise the stationery media majority—many of whom are content to be tethered to a broadband connection to communicate and gather information, and use cells mainly for phone calls.

“For many Americans, always-on, always-available access is a basic part of their lifestyles. They don’t see home broadband access alone as sufficient for their digital needs,” reads the report. Findings were based on two waves of surveys—the first, a survey of 2,054 adults Americans done in October and December 2007, and the second, a callback of 1,499 people who participated in the 2006 survey.