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It?s a smartphone country, says Pew Center

09 Apr, 2015

On January 9, 2007 Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone to a skeptical world. Between its first sale date the following June and the present, iPhones and its many competitors are approaching universality. As the Pew Research Center for Internet, Science & Tech said last week, “Nearly two-thirds of Americans are now smartphone owners, and for many these devices are a key entry point to the online world.”

In its just-released U.S. Smartphone Use in 2015, Pew confirms what earlier surveys have tracked:

“Smartphones are widely used for navigating numerous important life activities, from researching a health condition to accessing educational resources. Lower-income and ‘smartphone-dependent’ users are especially likely to turn to their phones for navigating job and employment resources.”

Unfortunately, Pew confirms that nearly 20 percent of Americans – 60 million people – rely on smartphones “either because they lack broadband at home, or because they have few options for online access other than their cell phone.”

As Speed Matters has frequently pointed out, a smartphone is not an adequate substitute for a computer and a fast Internet connection. Just try doing some substantial research or writing on a phone to see how limiting they can be.

Nevertheless people are resourceful with smartphones. The report, based on a series of surveys conducted by Pew and the Knight Foundation, reveals a wealth of information about smartphone use. For instance:

  • 62% of smartphone owners have used their phone in the past year to look up information about a health condition.
  • 57% have used their phone to do online banking.
  • 44% have used their phone to look up real estate listings or other information about a place to live.
  • 43% to look up information about a job.
  • 40% to look up government services or information.
  • 30% to take a class or get educational content.

In all, Pew comes to a mixed conclusion:

“The experience sampling survey illustrates that smartphone usage often produces feelings of productivity and happiness, but that many users also feel distracted or frustrated after mobile screen encounters.”

Nevertheless, smartphones are here to stay, although they remain better used as a supplement entry to the online world than as your only doorway.

U.S. Smartphone Use in 2015 (Pew Center, Apr. 2015)

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