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Mobile Platforms Bridging Demographic Digital Divide

18 Apr, 2012 By: Jackie Jones

WASHINGTON – The increase of mobile adoption could be the most significant factor bridging the demographic divide amid digital consumers, according to the latest research from the Pew Internet Project.

While one in five Americans still don’t use the Internet at all, 88 percent of U.S. adults have a cell phone, 57 percent own a laptop, 19 percent own an E-book reader and 19 percent have a tablet computer; about six in 10 adults (63 percent) now go online wirelessly with one of these devices, according to the Pew report titled “Digital Differences.”

“The rise of mobile is changing the story,” wrote Kathyrn Zickuhr and Aaron Smith, research specialists at the Pew Internet Project and co-authors of the report. “Groups that have traditionally been on the other side of the digital divide in basic Internet access are using wireless connections to go online. Among smartphone owners, young adults, minorities, those with no college experience, and those with lower household income levels are more likely than other groups to say that their phone is their main source of Internet access.”

The ways in which people access the Internet are much more varied today than in 2000, and Internet access is no longer limited to solely desktop computers, according to Pew Internet Project. When looking at smartphone owners, the study found that young adults, minorities, those who didn’t to college and consumers with lower household income levels are the most likely to report that their mobile phones are the main source of Internet access.

“Gadget ownership is generally correlated with age, education and household income, although some devices – notably E-book readers and tablets – are as popular or even more popular with adults in their 30s and 40s than young adults ages 18 to 29,” Zickuhr and Smith wrote.

Of no real surprise, senior citizens are the main demographic absent from the World Wide Web, the research noted.

It’s just one of multiple benefits of mobile the industry has recently taken note of. U.S. mobile commerce sales soared a shocking 91.4 percent to reach $6.7 billion in 2011, and continued growth is expected to boost sales to $31 billion in 2015, according to an eMarketer study (Response This Week, Jan. 11). M-commerce sales in the U.S. are expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 55 percent from 2010 to 2015, with a growth of 73.1 percent expected this year alone, eMarketer found. Smartphone adoption will contribute significantly to consumers’ ease of use when shopping via mobile, according to research.

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