Half of US Smartphone Users Access Social Networks Daily via Mobile

Smartphone owners around the world are rapidly adopting mobile for internet use, according to new research from Google and the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA).  While PC use for internet access is still prevalent, smartphones are increasingly popular for social networking, online video access, and even making purchases.

The survey found that 31% of US internet users had a smartphone, similar to the UK’s 30%, but far above Japan’s 6%.  According to an eMarketer estimate, 31% of US mobile users will have a smartphone by the end of this year, rising to 43% by 2015.

While Japan has the lowest percentage of smartphone users, when asked what they had used to go online every day over the past week, those users tended to go online using their mobile (78%) nearly as much as their PC (82%).  The gap was much higher in the US; 58% of smartphone owners used mobile to go online every day over the past week vs. 78% that used their PC.

When asked which device they used yesterday to access the internet multiple times, the gap remained small in Japan (68% used mobile, 75% used PC) and lessened in the US (53% used mobile, 67% used PC).

In Japan, more smartphone users plan to maintain or increase use of their smartphone (94%) than their PC (88%).  Both methods of internet usage were nearly tied in the US, with 91% planning to increase or maintain internet use via smartphone, and 92% planning to do so via PC.

Social networking has already become widespread via mobile. In the US, 78% of smartphone users access social networks via smartphone, and 49% do so at least once a day, vs. 87% who access social networking via PC, with 58% doing so at least once a day.

This shows only a 9% difference between mobile and PC use – both the UK and France show the same gap in this category.

In Japan, the gap is smaller, although percentages are lower: 57% access social networks via smartphone (35% do so at least once day), while 59% access social networks via PC (34% do so at least once a day).

The gap between smartphone and PC internet usage widens a bit when it comes to online video, but mobile is still making impressive inroads here:

  • in the US, 73% of smartphone users watch online video via their mobile device, while 92% do so via PC
  • in Japan the gap is again smaller; 79% watch online video via mobile, 89% do so via PC

Mobile phones as purchase devices are also on the rise – 45% have used their smartphone to purchase in Japan, 29% in the US, 28% in the UK and Germany.

Survey data comes from online interviews (conducted in Q1, Q2 of 2011) of smartphone users ages 18+ in 30 countries worldwide, focusing particularly on the US, UK, France, Germany and Japan.  Data for other countries will be released over the next few months.