Pew Survey: Half Of U.S. Mobile Consumers Use Cell Phones For Realtime Info Retrieval

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Mobile computing is more realtime than desktop computing. That’s just obvious. Typically when you are on the go, you want to know what is going on right now around you. The Pew Internet research project put out a new survey today that quantifies how many people rely on their mobile phones for realtime information. In the past month, 51 percent of U.S. adult cell phone owners have used their phones to get just-in-time info “they needed right away.”

Another 40 percent used their phones for emergencies. While about as many, 42 percent, use their phones to “stave off boredom.” For 18-29 year-olds, that percentage is 70 percent.

So mobile phones seem to be good for at least two things: realtime information consumption (stop looking at your Facebook feed) and entertainment (mostly games would be my guess). They are also good for avoiding personal contact with other humans. A full 13 percent of survey respondents admitted they have “pretended to be using their phone in order to avoid interacting with the people around them.”

The survey also dives into smartphone usage specifically. Pew esimates that 35 percent of Americans now own a smartphone. The most popular activities are text messaging and taking pictures (both are tied, with 92 percent of smartphone users saying they do each activity). More smartphone owners send photos (80 percent) than email (76 percent) from their phones. And 84 percent access the Internet. Social networking sites in general are accessed by 59 percent, while 15 percent check Twitter alone.