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Wednesday, 7th July 2010

New Statistics: Mobile Internet 2010; Data Usage Experiences "Dramatic Growth"

A new report by Aaron Smith, "Mobile Internet, 2010" from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. The numbers show mobile usage (both voice and data) continues to boom in the U.S.

From On Overview:

Cell phone and wireless laptop internet use have each grown more prevalent over the last year.

+ Nearly half of all adults (47%) go online with a laptop using a Wi-Fi connection or mobile broadband card (up from the 39% who did so as of April 2009)

+ 40% of adults use the internet, email or instant messaging on a mobile phone (up from the 32% of Americans who did this in 2009).

+ This means that 59% of adults now access the internet wirelessly using a laptop or cell phone—that is, they answered “yes” to at least one of these wireless access pathways. That adds up to an increase from the 51% who used a laptop or cell phone wirelessly in April 2009.

Data Applications

The use of non-voice data applications on cell phones has grown dramatically over the last year. Compared with a similar point in 2009, cell phone owners are now more likely to use their mobile phones to:

+ Take pictures—76% now do this, up from 66% in April 2009

+ Send or receive text messages—72% vs. 65%

+ Access the internet—38% vs. 25%

+ Play games—34% vs. 27%

+ Send or receive email—34% vs. 25%

+ Record a video—34% vs. 19%

+ Play music—33% vs. 21%

+ Send or receive instant messages—30% vs. 20%

User Groups

African-Americans and English-speaking Latinos continue to be among the most active users of the mobile web. Cell phone ownership is higher among African-Americans and Latinos than among whites (87% vs. 80%) and minority cell phone owners take advantage of a much greater range of their phones’ features compared with white mobile phone users. In total, 64% of African-Americans access the internet from a laptop or mobile phone, a seven-point increase from the 57% who did so at a similar point in 2009.

Young adults (those ages 18-29) are also avid users of mobile data applications, but older adults are gaining fast. Compared with 2009, cell phone owners ages 30-49 are significantly more likely to use their mobile device to send text messages, access the internet, take pictures, record videos, use email or instant messaging, and play music.

Access the Complete Report (HTML, Searchable) ||| PDF (25 Pages; PDF)

Notes: Cell phone ownership has remained stable over the last year, but users are taking advantage of a much wider range of their phones’ capabilities compared with a similar point in 2009. Of the eight mobile data applications we asked about in both 2009 and 2010, all showed statistically significant year-to-year growth.

Survey Questions (HTML) ||| PDF (8 Pages; PDF)

Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project

See Also: Mobile Web Use and the Digital Divide (via NY Times Bits)

From the Post:

Shireen Mitchell, the founder of Digital Sisters and a consultant on social media campaigns focused on women and minorities, said that the way in which people access the Internet should remain a part of the conversation about the digital divide.

“The quality of what is available through cell only is limited access,” she said. “We are moving in a positive direction about true cellphone usage and it’s relevant to online access, but there are still some challenges ahead.”

Ms. Mitchell said organizations or government agencies that are eager to move everything online should consider that some cellphones might not be able to take full advantage of the Web.

Does the digital divide mean online access vs. limited online access vs. no online access and does access also include digital literacy skills or do we need to build more concrete definitions? One can have excellent digital literacy skills but not have quality access to the Internet. Or, have superb access but not the digital literacy skills needed to search, find, access, and analyze? As some have suggested, do we really have two distinct digital divides that are growing across all boundaries?


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