Pew Research Center sees shifting trends in mobile adoption

By Utami Diah Kusumawati

Aaron Smith, associate director of research on internet and technology issues at Pew Research Center, says mobile adoption in America has changed in the last couple of years. 

Americans nowadays prefer to use mobile devices and smartphones for accessing news as well as for e-commerce activities, according to Pew.

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“By mobile phone we see a huge increase in the overall share of Americans getting news on mobile applications,” Smith said during a presentation at MobileMe&You 2017.

The study by Pew also showed that in terms of overall usage, the number of American adults who accessed news from mobile devices increased from 54 percent in 2013 to 85 percent in 2017. Meanwhile, the number of adults who read news from a desktop or laptop increased slightly from 82 percent in 2013 to 85 percent this year. 

“Now, mobile news usage is neck and neck with traditional desktop consumption,” Smith said. 

He added that there was also an increase in the number of people who prefer mobile devices to laptops or desktops for reading news. Based on his research, the share of Americans who preferred to access news using mobile devices rose from 56 percent in 2016 to 65 percent in 2017. 

The growing number of Americans who use mobile devices to search for news articles showed there was more mobile engagement from readers. Furthermore, Smith pointed out that mobile news readers were more interested in exploring long-form articles rather than shorter stories. 

“Per article basis, people engage more with long-form articles. On average, people that we examined spent 123 seconds on the long-form materials and 57 seconds on short-form articles,” he said. 

Smith also highlighted a shifting trend in consumer behavior in terms of mobile app usage. If in 2013 consumers were afraid to purchase things online, he said that’s certainly not the case this year.

“Four or five years ago we got questions from reporters about why people were scared of buying things online. Now, the facts showed that people bought something online using their cellphones,” Smith said.

The Pew study also showed that this year,  people used mobile devices for a growing number of reasons, including for finding jobs, accessing online dating applications and reading electronic books. 

As much as 28 percent of Americans used their smartphones as part of a job search. Within this group, half used their smartphones to fill out job applications and create a resume. Meanwhile, 9 percent of Americans said that they used mobile dating applications, a three-fold increase since 2013. 

“Since the advent of mobile applications, young people were the most likely group to use online mobile dating apps,” Smith said. 

When it comes to reading on mobile, Smith said that 13 percent of Americans read electronic books in the last year on their mobile devices. The number, he added, was up from 5 percent in 2011. 

Smith said that the research center did a study on the role of mobile devices in American life because the center is also greatly impacted by trends in mobile adaptation. 

“Around 35 to 40 percent of our typical traffic in a month is on smartphones. So, I think it is a kind of significant that people are accessing our materials on smartphones,” Smith said.