Almost 2/3 of Mobile Device Owners Are Reading Digital News

According to a detailed survey of news use on mobile devices by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, half of all U.S. adults now have a mobile connection to the web through either a smartphone or tablet, significantly more than a year ago, which has major implications for how news will be consumed and paid for.

22% of U.S. adults now own a tablet device, twice as many as a year earlier. Another 3% of adults regularly use a tablet owned by someone else in their home. And 23% of those who don't have a tablet, plan to get one in the next six months. In addition, 44% have smartphones, according to the survey.

The Growing Mobile Landscape (US Adults)


U.S. Adults Own

Get News On Their Device







Either tablet or smartphone



Source: Pew Research, October 2012

64% of tablet owners and 62% of smartphone owners say they use the devices for news at least weekly, tying news statistically with other popular activities such email and games on tablets, and behind only email on smartphones. A third of all U.S. adults now get news on a mobile device at least once a week.

Tablet Content Activities (% of Respondents)




Send or Receive email



Get news



Play games



Use social network sites



Read books



Watch movies






Read magazines



Source: PEW Research, October 2012

Nearly all mobile users use the devices for the latest new updates, and 73% of adults who consume news on their tablet read in-depth articles at least sometimes, including 19% who do so daily. 61% of smartphone news consumers at least sometimes read longer stories, 11% regularly.

Preferred Device For Getting U.S. News (% of Total)


% of Respondents Preferring



Print publications






All the same


Don’t like ads on any


Source: PEW Research, October 2012

However, while mobile technology allows people to get news anywhere, and any time, most people get news on these devices when they are at home. The use of news apps on mobile devices, which many publishers hoped would be a way to charge for content, remains limited. Most people still use a browser for news on their tablet.

A summary of the detailed findings of the study shows that:

  • 54% of tablet news users also get news on a smartphone; 77% get news on a desktop/laptop; 50% get news in print, and a quarter get news on all four platforms
  • Among smartphone news users, 47% still get news in print, while 75% get news on the laptop/desktop device and 28% get news on a tablet
  • 43% say the news they get on their tablets is adding to their overall news consumption. And 31%, said they get news from new sources on their tablet
  • Dual users (smartphone and tablet) tend to be more engaged news users. 82% sometimes or regularly read in-depth articles on their tablet compared with 62% of those who get news on just the tablet
  • 19%, of mobile news users have paid for a digital news subscription of some kind in the last year
  • 49% of tablet news users, and 50% of smartphone news users, sometimes or often notice ads when they are getting news. 15% click on ads when getting news on one of the mobile devices, and about 7% actually buy something

The report concludes, however, that the desktop computer remains an enduring part of people's news consumption. Despite all of the convenience of mobile, 41% of mobile users who still get news on the laptop and print prefer the conventional computer for doing so. Tablets rank second at 25%, followed by print. The smartphone ranked last. This is a shift from the very early adopters surveyed in 2011 who showed strong passion for their new devices, and it may speak to both the broadening population and a natural settling down as the "newness" factor wears off, says the report. 

For more information from the Pew study, please visit here.


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1 comment about "Almost 2/3 of Mobile Device Owners Are Reading Digital News".
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  1. Chris Stinson from Non-Given, October 30, 2012 at 10:45 a.m.

    What are people considering news? Blog Posts? TMZ? Tweets? Facebook opinions? Getting news doesn't translate clearly or cleanly between generations.