How Are Smartphone and PC Internet Users Different?

eMarketer

JAN 8, 2013

Time spent on email near equal on PCs vs. smartphones

eMarketer estimates that 1.7 billion people around the world will access the internet via a mobile device in 2013. By 2016, there will be a staggering 2.5 billion mobile internet users worldwide. As internet usage increasingly takes place on mobile devices—and particularly on smartphones—it is important to understand how consumers’ internet behavior is adapting to these new devices.

An analysis conducted in July 2012 by GfK Group examined US consumers’ web activity on a smartphone vs. on a PC. The research found that in a number of categories, consumers on the two kinds of devices behaved quite similarly.

Both PC and smartphone internet users spent a little under one-fifth of their internet time on email, and both allocated roughly a 10% share of time each to gaming and search.

The most striking difference GfK found was that PC internet users were considerably less social than their smartphone counterparts. PC internet users spent a sizeable 18% of their internet time on social media activities, but on smartphones, social media truly dominated, accounting for a 31% share of internet time—nearly twice as much as the amount of time spent on email, the next most popular smartphone web activity. Clearly, social media is a prime reason smartphone users access the internet via mobile.

On the other side, PCs remained the platform of choice for watching video, although the gulf between PCs and smartphones was considerably less wide. PC users spent 13% of their computer internet time watching video, while smartphone users spent just 9%. The other internet category consumers spent significantly more time on via PC? “Other.” This suggests that there are still a number of miscellaneous internet tasks that users don’t yet feel comfortable navigating on smaller-size phone screens—at least for now.

eMarketer estimates that mobile accounted for 11.7% of daily media time in 2012, compared to about 25% spent online on nonmobile devices.

As mobile usage grows, the activities internet users perform via their smartphone will account for a greater share of overall time spent online across all devices. Categories like mobile social usage will be the drivers and beneficiaries of this trend.


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