Half of all U.S. adults now have a mobile connection to the web through either a smartphone or tablet, significantly more than a year ago, and this has major implications for how news will be consumed and paid for, according to a detailed new survey of news use on mobile devices by the PewResearch Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) in collaboration with The Economist Group.
At the center of the recent growth in mobile is the rapid embrace by Americans of the tablet computer. Nearly a quarter of
U.S.adults, 22%, now own a tablet device-double the number from a year earlier. Another 3% of adults regularly use a tablet owned by someone else in their home. And nearly a quarter of those who don't have a tablet, 23%, plan to get one in the next six months. Even more U.S.adults (44%) have smartphones, according to the survey, up from 35% in May 2011.
News remains an important part of what people do on their mobile devices-64% of tablet owners and 62% of smartphone owners say they use the devices for news at least weekly, tying news statistically with other popular activities such email and playing games on tablets and behind only email on smartphones (not including talking on the phone). This means fully a third of all
U.S.adults now get news on a mobile device at least once a week.
Among the detailed findings of the study:
- The advent of the new lower-priced tablets in late 2011 brought in a new crop of tablet owners. Now, just over half, 52%, of tablet owners report owning an iPad, compared with 81% a year ago. Nearly half, 48%, now own an Android-based device; about half of them, 21%, Kindle Fires. iPad owners, however, stand out from Android owners: they use their tablet more often in general and more often for news. Android users are more likely to use social networks and follow news that comes from friends and family.
- People who get news on both a smartphone and a tablet may carry added appeal for news organizations. These people tend to be more engaged news users than those who get news on just one device. They are more likely to read deeply (fully 82% sometimes or regularly read in-depth articles on their tablet compared with 62% of those who get news on just the tablet), to send or receive news through email or social networks and to read past issues of magazines. And, while the numbers are still small, dual-device mobile news user are also more likely than others to have paid for digital news content.