Global mobile statistics 2012 Part D: Consumer mobile behavior


Home: Full index of contents and highlights • Section A: Mobile subscribers; handset share • Section B: Mobile Web; 3G • Section C: Mobile marketing, advertising and messaging • Section D: Consumer mobile behavior • Section E: Mobile apps, app stores • Section F: Mobile payment, NFC, m-commerce, m-ticketing and m-coupons • Section G: Mobile financial services (MFS) and m-banking • Section H: VC investment in mobile.

SECTION D: Consumer mobile behavior

1) What do consumers use their mobiles for? (US, Western Europe and Japan).
2) Consumers’ favorite mobile activities in the US
3) Consumers’ favorite mobile activities in China
4) Mobile search activity

1) What do consumers use their mobiles for?

According to ComScore’s excellent 2010 Mobile Year in Review (February 2011) Japanese consumers are still much more advanced in their mobile usage, with 55.4 percent accessing the mobile Web and 57.1 percent using email, but US and European consumers are catching on fast.
• Even in developed nations (where smartphone penetration is higher), more people use mobile Web than mobile apps. Very few use either mobile apps or mobile Web exclusively. Only 6 percent of app users in the US and 7 percent in Europe don’t use their browser. While 8 percent of browser users in the US and Europe don’t use apps.
“Even though applications received much more attention by the media throughout 2010, our analysis in the US and the EU5 region showed that by a small margin, application usage is still second to browser usage when it comes to the mobile web… Further analysis of browser use and application access shows that the two activities are not mutually exclusive… Instead of the browser vs. app question being an ‘either or’ proposition, the mobile web audience has quickly come to expect and utilize both browsing and apps as an integral parts of the mobile web experience.” ComScore (February 2011).

Mobile behavior in United States, EU5 (UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy) and Japan – October, November, December 2010
Percent of total mobile audience (Age 13+)
United States Europe Japan
Used connected media
(browser, app or download)
46.7% 41.1% 76.8%
Used browser 36.4% 28.8% 55.4%
Used application 34.4% 28.0% 53.3%
Used messaging
Sent text message 68.0% 82.7% 41.6%
Instant messaging 17.2% 14.2% 3.6%
Email 30.5% 22.2% 57.1%
Accessed entertainment/social media
Took photos 52.4% 57.5% 62.9%
Social networking or blog 24.7% 18.0% 19.3%
Played games 23.2% 25.3% 16.3%
Recorded video 20.2% 26.1% 15.8%
Listened to music 15.7% 25.0% 12.9%
Watched TV and/or video 5.6% 5.7% 22.8%
Accessed financial services
Bank accounts 11.4% 8.0% 7.0%
Financial news or stock quotes 10.2% 8.0% 16.5%
Accessed news, sports, weather, search, retail, travel, reference
News and information 39.5% 32.2% 57.6%
Weather reports 25.2% 16.4% 34.7%
Search 21.4% 14.9% 31.5%
Maps 17.8% 13.0% 17.1%
Sports news 15.8% 12.0% 18.2%
Restaurant info 10.0% 6.5% 9.7%
Traffic reports 8.4% 7.4% 14.0%
Classifieds 7.3% 4.8% 3.6%
Retail site 6.5% 5.2% 8.5%
Travel service 4.4% 4.6% 2.9%
Source: comScore MobiLens (Feb 2011) via: mobiThinking

• Read the insiders’ guides to mobile in: • JapanFranceGermanyUSAUKSpain.

2) Consumers’ favorite mobile activities in the US

US consumers prefer browser to apps for most mobile activities, according to Keynote/Adobe (survey of 1,200 U.S. consumers, mostly smartphone users, October 2010)
• Accessing maps and directions is the no. 1 mobile activity, followed by social networking, accessing local information and reading news.
• Respondents generally favor the browser experience over downloadable mobile apps, except when it comes to games, social media, maps and music.
• Consumers report equal satisfaction levels with their browser and app experiences, and spend nearly equal amounts of time interacting with each.
• “To maximize reach, invest in a mobile-optimized web experience and look beyond a single device.” – Adobe/Keynote.

US consumers’ favorite mobile activities
and preferences for accessing the activity via app or browser
Category Participated Prefer apps Prefer browser
Media and Entertainment:      
Social networking 76% 54% 46%
Local info 73% 46% 54%
News 68% 37% 63%
Music 63% 55% 45%
Games 61% 61% 39%
Video 56% 42% 58%
Sports 42% 33% 67%
Blogs/blogging 41% 25% 75%
Product reviews 34% 22% 78%
Travel and mapping:      
Maps/directions 81% 52% 48%
Research travel 47% 25% 75%
Check travel reviews 43% 23% 77%
Check travel itinerary 39% 32% 68%
Banking and finance:      
Check bank account 67% 42% 58%
Conduct bank transactions 51% 39% 61%
Budgeting 43% 44% 56%
For every shopping activity, including researching products and prices, reviews, promotions
and purchasing products, most respondents (61-81%) preferred browser to native app.
Source: Keynote/Adobe (October 2010) via: mobiThinking

• mobiThinking note on mobile Web v mobile apps: both the results of the ComScore and the Keynote/Adobe research makes a mockery of the people who claimed the download app would kill the mobile Web. Despite all the media hype and unfathomable amounts of money invested in developing and promoting apps for proprietary handsets, mobile consumers still use and prefer the mobile Web to mobile apps… and they always will.
But many users prefer mobile apps for certain activities – particularly those that they use frequently and where they are loyal to one provider e.g. mapping and social networking. That’s why mobiThinking also has little time for the equally naïve counter argument that the mobile Web will kill the native app.
• For more on mobile apps see: Native v Web appsDo mobile apps deliver ROI?.

3) Consumers’ favorite mobile activities in China

In China, the most popular activity is mobile IM, followed by search.
CINIC (July 2010) reports that the most popular activities in China (which its own data suggests is the world’s largest mobile Web community) are: instant messaging (62 percent); search (48 percent); web music (45 percent); web literature (43 percent); social networking 36 percent; games (21 percent); video (20 percent); email (16 percent); and m-commerce (6 percent).

• For more mobile in China see this video: What marketers need to know about mobile in China – Jia Zheng, AKQA

4) Mobile search activity

Mobile searches have quadrupled in the last year according to Google, for many items one in seven searches are now mobile.
• 1 in 3 mobile searches are local. After looking up a local business on their smartphone, 61 percent of users called the business and 59 percent visited.
• 79 percent of smartphone users use their smartphones to help with shopping
• 71 percent of smartphone users that see TV, press or online ad, do a mobile search for more information, but 79 percent of large online advertisers still do not have a mobile optimized site.

“It is true across the board. Roughly one in seven searches, even in the smaller categories, are happening on a mobile phone, but how many of you are putting one seventh of your resources into mobile – anyone who hasn’t got mobile only business? Your customer is trying to engage you… it would be like not doing business with your customers on Thursdays.” Jason Spero, Google (Feb 2011).

Percentage of searches that are via a mobile device
Category Proportion of searches
that are mobile
Restaurants 29.6%
Automotive 16.8%
Consumer electronics 15.5%
Finance and insurance 15.4%;
Beauty and personal 14.9%
Source: Internal Google Data (February 2011) via: mobiThinking

“Whether to have a mobile site or a mobile app and which to develop first depends on what kind of product you have. If most people are going to find you through search then you should optimize your site for mobile Web, but if you think you have a big enough fan base and you can cut through the clutter of getting people to download your app, then you can have a more immersive experience by creating an app.” Chet Fenster, MEC Entertainment (November 2011).

• Get your mobile strategy onto the right track with this series of video interviews with the experts from the top creative, interactive and mobile agencies (filmed September-November 2011): • Chet Fenster, MECMike Yonker, RockfishILICCO ELIA, LBiRuss Lidstone, Euro RSCGPhillip Clement, BemokoChristian Louca, YOC

Home: Full index of contents and highlights • Section A: Mobile subscribers; handset share • Section B: Mobile Web; 3G • Section C: Mobile marketing, advertising and messaging • Section D: Consumer mobile behavior • Section E: Mobile apps, app stores • Section F: Mobile payment, NFC, m-commerce, m-ticketing and m-coupons • Section G: Mobile financial services (MFS) and m-banking • Section H: VC investment in mobile.

Don’t miss:
• The insiders’ guides to world’s greatest mobile markets • New in-depth country guides to: • KenyaBrazil
• Guide to mobile agencies • Latest agency profile: • The Hyperfactory
• Guide to mobile industry awards • Check out the video case studies: • MeffysCannes Lions
• Guide to mobile ad networks 2012 • with 5 new ad networks •
• Mobile events 2012 • best conferences, great discounts and free tickets •
• The big compendium of global mobile stats

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