Earlier this month Nielsen produced a report detailing what Americans do online with their computers, laptops and mobile devices. The data collection company produced charts and graphs based on responses from a pool of 5,000– with a different group of respondents chosen each month.
Disclaimer: My thoughts on statistics aren’t a secret and I’ve written about how they can fool us. Just the same, Nielsen’s report is interesting in several respects.
According to the report, we spend nearly a third of our time online, with more than 22% of that time devoted to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
More interesting, though, is the company’s findings for mobile device use. According to Nielsen, email is still the most popular activity on smartphones and feature-rich cell phones. I find the results somewhat surprising, mostly because research I’ve done across non-business users leans toward social media being the primary action on smartphones, with a decent number of folk reporting they haven’t even configured email accounts on their mobile devices.
Perhaps a vast number of respondents are business users. This matters not, though, because the simple fact that people are reading and composing email with their devices shows us that email marketing campaigns are still a great way to communicate with current and potential customers. This also means, however, that we need to focus more on making sure the emails being sent are properly rendered across all devices.
The report also tells us what we should already know – people sure like to Tweet and update their Facebook profiles via their smartphone. Actually, the bulk of my online friends upload pics more via smartphones than computers.
Also not surprising is the usage of video sites, like YouTube. Apps make videos load more quickly than surfing mobile sites, and most devices have a means to upload video to the YouTube servers as well.
Overall, the report is pretty compelling in what it covers. While it wouldn’t be wise to simply take the numbers at face value, we also cannot ignore that smartphones are being used to complete many of the same tasks people already do on their desktops. If you had any reservations about paying more attention to a mobile-friendly site for your online business, this should serve as a reminder that mobile access is a significant part of the “big picture” when it comes to the future of the web.