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17 Percent Opt to Browse the Web via Mobile Rather Than Other Devices

18 Jul, 2012 By: Doug McPherson


WASHINGTON – A Pew Research study finds that 17 percent of cell phone owners choose to do most of their online browsing on their phone versus a computer or other device.

Most report it’s a matter of convenience, but some say their phone is their only option for online access. Pew says that as of April 2012, 88 percent of U.S. adults own a cell phone and 55 percent of those folks use their phone to surf the Internet. That’s a hefty jump from the 31 percent of cell owners who said they used their phones to go online as recently as April 2009. And because 88 percent of U.S. adults now own a cell phone, that works out to 49 percent of all U.S. adults who go online using a cell phone at least occasionally. On a typical day, 41 percent of all cell owners use their phones to go online.

Other findings include:

  • Young adults and non-whites are especially likely to use their cell phones for the majority of their online activity
  • 45 percent of all 18-to-29-year-olds who use the Internet on their cell phones do most of their online browsing on their mobile devices
  • 51 percent of African American mobile Web users do most of their online browsing on their phones, double the proportion for whites; 42 percent of Latino mobile Web users also fall into a “cell mostly” category
  • Mobile Web usage is generally highest among groups with relatively high levels of smartphone ownership, and every major demographic group is more likely to engage in this activity in 2012 than was the case in 2009 – the fastest-growing group during that time period is 25-34 year olds
  • Other age groups with high levels of cell phone internet usage include young adults ages 18-24 and those ages 35-44; on the other hand, seniors (defined as those 65 years of age or older) have joined mobile Web user ranks in modest numbers – though seven in ten seniors now own a cell phone, just 16 percent of them use their phones to go online

The three main reasons why users browse online with a mobile phone are convenience and constant availability, a better fit for usage habits and a way to fill gaps in Internet access.

The findings came from a national telephone survey conducted March 15-April 3. Access the complete report from Pew Research here.


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