As cell phones achieve something approaching ubiquity, growing numbers of U.S. adults are using mobile devices to access the Internet, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. which recently released its "Mobile Access 2010" report based on survey performed in May.
Specifically, Pew found that 38% of U.S. adults who own a mobile device use it to access the Internet -- up from 25% in April 2009.
This represents substantial penetration of the U.S. population overall, as Pew revealed that 82% of the U.S. adult population owns a mobile device. Crunching the numbers, that means that slightly over 31% of all U.S. adults are using a mobile device to access the Internet in 2010.
The study also contained a number of promising insights regarding mobile marketing and commerce.
According to Pew, 11% of U.S. adults who own a mobile device (9% of the adult population at large) have used it to make a purchase. That proportion rises to 20% among 18- to-29-year-olds. The figure is also somewhat higher for certain ethnic groups: 18% of English-speaking Hispanics and 13% of African-American consumers have made a mobile purchase, versus just 10% for the non-Hispanic white population.
Also, 23% of U.S. adults who own a mobile device (19% of the overall population) have used it to access an online social network, 20% (16.4% of the overall) have watched a video, and 11% (9% of the overall) have made a charitable donation.
76% of mobile device owners have used the device to take a picture, compared to 66% last year, and 72% use it to text, compared to 65% last year. The proportion that have played a game increased from 27% to 34%.
The Pew study also documented a broader expansion of high-speed wireless Internet access in general. Regardless of the specific channel (mobile device vs. laptop) 59% of U.S. adults are now regular users of wireless Internet, including Web access, e-mail, and instant messaging.
Interestingly, 20% of this group (12% of the overall population) access the wireless Internet exclusively through mobile devices, as opposed to laptops. 33% (19.5% of the overall) access the Internet only through laptops, and 47% (28%) use both.