Mobile Becomes Media Platform: 74% Use Smartphones, 52% On Tablets

Such is the rapid adoption of mobile devices by Americans that smartphones and tablets are becoming mainstream media platforms.

Based on a survey of 2,500 cell or smartphone owners aged 12 to 64 in August, a study by Frank N. Magid Associates estimates 74% of people now use a smartphone and 52% use a tablet.

Those figures are higher than most other similar estimates. The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life project, for example, released a survey in June finding 56% of American adults own a smartphone, and 34% own a tablet. But the Magid study covered a wider age range, and also asked survey participants what devices they “use,” not just own.

With that broader framework in mind, the research firm projects 80% of Americans next year will use a smartphone, and 64% a tablet. Younger users have been among the most enthusiastic in embracing mobile screens. More than a third (35%) of those in the 18-34 age bracket consider smartphones or tablets their primary entertainment platform, about equal with laptops and PC (34%), and more than TV (21%).

That isn’t to say Americans are abandoning TV for smaller screens. Nielsen research shows mobile alternatives haven’t put a serious dent in the amount of TV viewing. That’s in part because of the second-screen phenomenon, with people interacting on smartphones and tablets while watching TV.

The Magid report estimates 37% of smartphone owners and 56% of tablet owners are using their devices while in front of the TV, opening up new cross-screen ad opportunities. With smartphones and tablets becoming key features of the media landscape, the study warns that consumer expectations rise along with new business opportunities.

A company’s digital experience should be simple, personalized, relevant and provide curation to help users filter the sea of online information and foster a sense of community. Even major players like Amazon, Facebook and Google each have flaws in their approach. Google, for instance, “lacks curation and trust and doesn’t always help customers make the right decision,” according to the report.

Conversely, Facebook is dogged by ongoing privacy concerns, Amazon hasn’t figured out how to connect with consumers at the local level, and Yelp needs to bring more quality control to its trove of user-contributed reviews.
Tags: media, mobile, tablet
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