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September 16, 2013

'Mobile Mostly' Internet Access Behavior Grows

About 63 percent of mobile users appear to access the Internet from their phones. Of those, some 34 percent “mostly” use their phone to access the Internet, as opposed to other devices such as a desktop PC, notebook or tablet computer, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Those findings also have some implications for use of mobile Internet access, as opposed to use of fixed facilities, as at least some of those “mobile mostly” users will rely on their mobile subscriptions instead of buying a fixed Internet access service.

The findings suggest there has been a shift in use of the Internet overall, towards content consumption or mobile-initiated transactions, rather than use of PC devices for “work” or content creation.

In many cases, those mobiles might rely mostly on fixed Internet connections, using the Wi-Fi access features of their smartphones.

Such mobile-mostly Internet users account for 21 percent of the total mobile phone user population. Young adults, non-whites, and those with relatively low income and education levels are particularly likely to be mobile-mostly users.

That same trend is expected to emerge in many developing nations as well.

Some 53 percent of mobile Internet users say that they mostly go online from a device other than their mobile phone, while 11 percent say that they use both their phone and some other device or devices equally.

Since at least 2011, young adults, non-whites, the less educated, and the less affluent have said that they go online mostly using their cell phone at consistently high rates, Pew researchers say.

Among those who use their phone to go online, 60 percent of Hispanics and 43 percent of African-Americans are mobile-mostly Internet users, compared with 27 percent of whites, say Pew researchers.

About 50 percent of mobile Internet users ages 18 to 29 mostly use their phone to go online.

Some 45 percent of mobile Internet users with a high school diploma or less mostly use their phone to go online, compared with 21 percent of those with a college degree.

Similarly, 45 percent of mobile Internet users living in households with an annual income of less than $30,000 mostly use their phone to go online, compared with 27 percent of those living in households with an annual income of $75,000 or more.

There are at least two areas in which there are potential implications for Internet policy. The first implication is that, as always, consumers might choose not to buy some products that are made available to them. In other words, differences in purchasing behavior are not always or necessarily caused by “defects” of supply.

People make rational choices about products and services, and they might prefer mobile access to fixed access.

The other point is that users might decide they prefer to use mobile devices as the terminals of choice when interacting with Internet apps and services, even though others might prefer a PC appliance at least half the time. That of course has implications for device markets.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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