Some 62 percent of adult Americans have taken advantage of mobile access to digital data and tools. The Pew Internet Project’s new report, entitled Mobile Access to Data and Information, examines mobile access in two ways and finds that:
--58 percent of adult Americans have used a cell phone or personal digital assistant (PDA) to do at least one of ten mobile non-voice data activities, such as texting, emailing, taking a picture, looking for maps or directions, or recording video.
--41 percent of adult Americans have logged onto the internet on the go, that is, away from home or work either with a wireless laptop connection or a handheld device.
--Overall, 62 percent of adult Americans have either accessed the internet with a wireless connection away from home or work or used a non-voice data application using their cell phone or PDA, according to the Pew Internet Project’s December 2007 survey.
Overall, 75 percent of all American adults say they own cell phones. Here’s how the data breaks out when looking at non-voice data activities people access from their cell phones or personal digital assistants (PDA), with percentage represented as a share of those with cell phones or PDAs.
--Send or receive text messages: 58 percent have done this at some point, with 31 percent saying they do this on a typical day.
--Take a picture: 58 percent have taken a picture with their device; 15 percent say they do this on the typical day.
--Play a game: 27 percent have played a game on their handheld device, with 8 percent saying they do this on a typical day.
--Send or receive email: 19 percent have done this, with 8 percent saying they do this on a typical day.
--Access the internet for news or other information: 19 percent have used their handheld device for such information access, with 7 percent saying they do this on the average day.
--Record a video: 18 percent have done this with their handheld device, with 3 percent say they shoot a video on their cell phone on the typical day.
--Play music: 17 percent do this with their cell or PDA, 7 percent on the typical day.
--Send or receive instant messages: 17 percent have used their device for IM-ing, and 6 percent saying they do this on the average day.
--Get maps or directions: 14 percent say they have gotten maps or directions with their device; 3 percent do this on the typical day.
10 percent have watched a video on their handheld device, with 3 percent saying they do this on the average day.
Young adults (those between the ages of 18 and 29) are most likely, on a typical day, to use their cell phone or PDA to access a non-voice data application; 73 percent with wireless handheld devices do so. This compares to the average of 42 percent of those with cell phones or PDAs who use a non-voice data application on their devices on the typical day.
More striking is use among African Americans and Latinos. Some 56 percent of English-speaking Hispanics with a wireless handheld device use a non-voice data or information application on the average day, and 50 percent of African Americans with wireless handhelds do so. These groups lagged in "desktop" online access in the late 1990s and early part of the decade, but the report shows a very different pattern for wireless access on the go. African Americans and English-speaking Hispanics are more likely than white Americans to use cell phones or PDAs for non-voice data applications.
The report also suggests that email is alive and well, even though sending text-messages is very popular, especially among young adults. On the average day, 60 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 29 with cell phones or PDAs send or receive text messages, while about the same share (62 percent) of internet users in this age group send or receive email on the typical day.
The report also documents how many Americans have connected to the internet with a laptop or other wireless-enabled device away from home or work. Some 52 percent of internet users have done this at some point. Usage patterns for this type of wireless access (e.g., logging on to WiFi networks) are similar to those for non-voice data access using cell phones or PDAs, with young Americans, blacks, and English-speaking Hispanics being the most likely users of wireless while away from home or work.
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