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Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Always Connected: What is Everyone Doing Online?

With the multitude of internet-connected devices at our disposal, we are more connected than ever before. Not only do we use the internet from our home computers, but iPads and tablets provide a more space-friendly portable option to remain connected on-the-go and smartphones are a must-have for many. Browsers are most often developed to provide access to people via their mobile device of choice, offering multi-platform browsing options. But in a world where we’re always on, what is it exactly that everyone is doing?

According to a 2013 ComScore study, internet activities vary based on the platform or access device.

The top five PC-based internet activities include:

• Portals (74%)
• Email (69%)
• Online gaming (66%)
• Newspapers / news (62%)
• Shopping / retail (62%)

In contrast, the top five activities performed from a mobile device include:

• Maps / GPS (84%)
• Weather (60%)
• Music (57%)
• Social networking (55%)
• Checking sports (44%)

As it pertains to mobile technologies, there are varying types of devices that offer internet access – some more popular than others. According to Pew Internet Project research, mobile technology ownership as a whole is on the rise, with the exception of e-readers which declined slightly (two percent) in 2013.

According to Wikipedia there are over 6.8 billion mobile phones globally with almost 76,000,000 of those being in the UK.

Although mobile phone ownership still holds the largest portion of the mobile device market share, tablet computer ownership is growing rapidly (up six percent since December 2012). This growth in tablet ownership, coupled with the tablet’s enhanced capabilities may lend itself to the explanation for declining e-reader sales.

As a whole, the internet offers the public endless options to pass time. Pew Internet Research reports that the most popular online activity is using a search engine to find information – done by 91 percent of internet users. This is closely followed by sending or reading email (88 percent). However, while certain activities are fairly predictable, the activities become far more divided when examined across various demographics. For example men are more likely than women to use the internet to do the following:

• Read news (77% vs. 66%)
• Purchase travel services or make a reservation (60% vs. 51%)
• Check sports scores and information (59% vs. 27%)
• Participate in an online auction (28% vs. 18%)

However, women are more likely than men to do the following:

• Get health information (85% vs. 75%)
• Get spiritual and religious information (73% vs. 56%)
• Use support group websites (63% vs. 46%)

The demographic data paints varying portraits by race, age, and more – but one thing is for certain regardless of demographic segment: internet usage is growing. As of 2013, mobile devices are responsible for nearly 40 percent of all time spent online (ComScore 2013: Mobile Future in Focus). ComScore predicts that smartphone and tablet adoption will continue to grow, an adoption that will further change the top online activities, provided that users continue to use mobile devices to access maps, music, weather, and social networking more prevalently.

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