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Smartphone User Behavior, Activities, and Content and Media Consumption

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Aside from making phone calls, consuming mobile content is the most popular smartphone activity among owners of smartphones: 93% say they regularly access mobile content and information, while 59% access the Internet and 58% use email, according to a study by the Online Publishers Association (OPA).

Moreover, 68% of surveyed smartphone owners say they "cannot live without" their smartphones.

Below, additional findings from A Portrait of Today's Smartphone User, by the OPA in collaboration with Frank N. Magid Associates, Inc.

Among the smartphone owners surveyed, 48% say they access social networks, 46% listen to music, and 43% play games.


More than one-third of smartphone owners (39%) download and use apps, and 14% make purchases via smartphone.

Daily Doses of Mobile Content

More than one-third (34%) of smartphone owners say they access content several times a day, 17% access such content once a day, and 19% access content several times a week. Using mobile apps is nearly as popular: 32%, 15%, and 18% respectively.

Types of Content

On a weekly basis, smartphone users access various kinds of content: Weather info is most popular (47%), followed by video content (31%), local news (29%), and national news (24%).

Among those who view video via smartphone, short-form news and entertainment videos are most popular (68%), followed by user-generated video content (e.g., YouTube) (57%) and music videos (49%).

Paying for Content

Nearly one-quarter (24%) of smartphone users say they have purchased content for viewing via their smartphones.

Among such content purchasers, video is the most popular purchase (22%), followed by entertainment content (21%), books (21%), and weather content (19%).

Receptiveness to Ads

Content purchasers are more receptive to ads than other smartphone owners, and they tend to have more positive opinions toward ads on the whole:

  • 29% of smartphone content purchasers say smartphone ads are eye-catching, compared with 17% of all smartphone owners.
  • 26% of smartphone content purchasers say ads are relevant, compared with 15% of all smartphone owners.
  • 25% of smartphone content purchasers say ads are unique and interesting, compared with 14% of all smartphone owners.

Similarly, content purchasers are far more likely to take action on an ad.

Among all smartphone owners, 39% of the all smartphone content consumers have been driven to take action after seeing a smartphone ad, 15% have clicked through an ad, 12% have used a special offer or coupon, and 12% have made a purchase either via a PC or at a store.

By contrast, 79% of content purchasers have taken action after seeing an ad, 31% have clicked through an ad, 30% have used a special offer or coupon, 27% have made a purchase via a PC, and 24% have made a purchase at a store as a direct result of an ad.

Other key findings:

  • Apps market: 96% of smartphone content consumers downloaded apps in the previous year averaging 36 apps; 14% of all smartphone apps downloaded by those reporting are paid.
  • Android leads iOS: Android device penetration (46%) continues to lead iOS penetration (35%), with both platforms growing in share over the previous year; Blackberry and all other platform penetration share (16% and 11%, respectively) declined rapidly vs. last year  (25% and 14%, respectively, in 2011).
  • Smartphone is the preferred media device for many: 54% of multiple mobile device owners prefer using their smartphone for at least one of a range of activities over PC/laptops and tablets.
  • Smartphone users are cross-platform consumers: Smartphone users have strong cross-platform tendencies, with 84% identifying themselves as two-screen multitaskers (TV plus mobile phone/tablet) and 64% identifying themselves as three-screen multitaskers (TV plus PC plus mobile phone/tablet).

About the data: On behalf of the OPAFrank N. Magid Associates fielded a nationally representative online survey of 2,540 people, age 8-64, March 19-26, 2012.


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