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Different Priorities in Smartphone vs. Computer Use, But Some Common Ground

Texting, navigation, free downloads, email and social media top smartphone uses

NEW YORK, Jan. 3, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- When we hold smartphones in our hands, we are in effect grasping miniscule computers.  Their capabilities far outpace those of desktop units of yore, and their perpetual state of connectivity mean that smartphone users are almost never disconnected from the Internet.  But even if they are at least somewhat comparable to full-fledged computers, are they used comparably?  The Harris Poll tested smartphone owners' regular use of computers and smartphones for a series of tasks either product can complete, in order to find out.

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These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,383 adults (991 of whom own and use a smartphone) surveyed online between November 14 and 19, 2012 by Harris Interactive.

Many top uses for smartphones and computers are device-sensitive
When smartphone owners are asked which of a set of actions (common to both devices) they regularly perform on a smartphone and/or on a computer, there are both divergences and similarities in how the two devices are used.  For example, the immediate communication of text or instant messages is the most common smartphone use (87%) and the least common use for a computer (20%).  In contrast, emails are the top use for computers (90% for all email uses combined).  Email is still a highly utilized feature on smartphones (72% combined), though it is worth noting that reading emails (67% personal, 38% work) outpaces actually writing emails (56% personal, 32% work) on smartphones.

Smartphone owners also appear to favor computers for researching goods and services (81% / 3rd most reported activity vs. 45% / 8th for smartphone use) and purchasing products or services such as clothing and holiday gifts (78% / 4th vs. 23% / 12th).

In contrast, mapping/navigation is among the top uses for smartphones (73% / 2nd), but only a mid-tier use for computers (56% / 7th).

Social Media use is similar on both devices
Despite the many differences between smartphone and computer use, combined social media interactions make for the 5th most frequent use for both a smartphone (64%) and a computer (69%).  In both cases, reading posts (56% smartphone, 62% computer) is the top activity, followed by sharing (44% smartphone, 51% computer) and writing (43% smartphone, 50% computer).  A similar percentage use their smartphones to "check in" (43%), while far fewer do so on computers (28%).

Children in household increase likelihood of nearly all activities on smartphones
Smartphone owners with children in their household are significantly more likely than those without to indicate using smartphones for most of the activities tested, including mapping/navigation uses (79% among those w/ children in hh, 68% without), downloading free applications, music or videos (72%, 62%), combined social media use (72%, 59%), playing games (62%, 52%), researching goods or services (54%, 39%) and many others.

So what?
Understanding what smartphones are used for is an integral part of designing a successful device.  For example, the prevalence of text messaging calls for a well designed keyboard interface.  Similarly, smartphone users' reliance on their devices for mapping and navigation services calls for either a well designed mapping interface or the ability to download one.

Furthermore, the prevalence of data-munching activities like texting, navigation, downloads, emailing speak directly to smartphone owners' data plan needs, and as reliance on these devices continues to grow both data plans and entire data networks may be affected in any number of ways.

 

TABLE 1

ACTIONS REGULARLY PERFORM USING A COMPUTER & USING A SMARTPHONE

[Summary Table]

"Thinking generally about your media and communication behavior on a smartphone versus on a computer, please indicate which of these actions you regularly perform on each."

Base: Smartphone users


Using a computer


Using a smartphone

%

%

Email [NET]

90

Send or receive text or instant messages

87

Send personal emails

84

Mapping, navigation, etc.

73

Read personal emails

82

Email [NET]

72

Send work emails

60

Read personal emails

67

Read work emails

59

Send personal emails

56

Take surveys

86

Read work emails

38

Research goods or services

81

Send work emails

32

Purchase other products or services (e.g. clothes holiday gifts, etc.)

78

Download free applications, music or videos

66

Social Media [NET]

69

Social Media [NET]

64

Read social media posts on sites or apps such as Facebook or Twitter

62

Read social media posts on sites or apps such as Facebook or Twitter

56

Share social media posts (e.g. news, jokes, pictures, etc.)

51

Share social media posts (e.g. news, jokes, pictures, etc.)

44

Write social media posts

50

 "Check in" via social media

43

"Check in" via social media

28

Write social media posts

43

Find or research restaurants

61

Play games

56

Mapping, navigation, etc.

56

Find or research restaurants

53

Play games

52

Research goods or services

45

Download free applications, music or videos

38

Purchase applications, music or videos

42

Purchase applications, music or videos

37

Take surveys

24

Video chat (e.g. FaceTime, Skype, etc.)

35

Video chat (FaceTime, Skype, etc.)

23

Send or receive text or instant messages

20

Purchase other products or services (e.g. clothes, holiday gifts, etc.)

23

Note: Multiple responses allowed

 

TABLE 2

ACTIONS REGULARLY PERFORM USING A SMARTPHONE – by Children in HH

[Summary Table]

"Thinking generally about your media and communication behavior on a smartphone versus on a computer, please indicate which of these actions you regularly perform on each."

Base: Smartphone users


Total
Smartphone
Users

Smartphone
users WITH
children
<18 in HH

Smartphone
users
without
children
<18 in HH

%

%

%

Send or receive text or instant messages

87

89

86

Mapping, navigation, etc.

73

79

68

Email [NET]

72

76

69

Read personal emails

67

71

64

Send personal emails

56

60

53

Read work emails

38

44

34

Send work emails

32

37

29

Download free applications, music or videos

66

72

62

Social Media [NET]

64

72

59

Read social media posts on sites or apps such as Facebook or Twitter

56

63

51

Share social media posts (e.g. news, jokes, pictures, etc.)

44

51

40

 "Check in" via social media

43

53

36

Write social media posts

43

51

37

Play games

56

62

52

Find or research restaurants

53

56

50

Research goods or services

45

54

39

Purchase applications, music or videos

42

50

36

Take surveys

24

31

19

Video chat (FaceTime, Skype, etc.)

23

28

19

Purchase other products or services (e.g. clothes, holiday gifts, etc.)

23

30

17

Note: Multiple responses allowed

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between November 14 and 19, 2012 among 2,383 adults (aged 18 and over), of whom 991 own and use a smartphone. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

The Harris Poll® #1, January 3, 2013
By: Larry Shannon-Missal, Harris Poll Research Manager

About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll® and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research. Harris possesses expertise in a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing our client's research investment. Serving clients in more than 196 countries and territories through our North American and European offices, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us—and our clients—stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

Press Contacts:
Corporate Communications
Harris Interactive
212-539-9600
[email protected]  

SOURCE Harris Interactive

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