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October 08, 2013

What’s the Most Popular Automotive Accessory? Your Mobile Device!

Mobile-device-Thinkstock-128956679We know how much you love your cell phone. In fact, according to Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project*, 29 percent of cell owners describe their cell phone as “something they can’t imagine living without."

Well, not only can you not imagine living without your cell phone, much of their research shows our devices are becoming an even more important aspect of many drivers’ in-car connectivity experience.

Cell phones are now being used by 91 percent of adults, say the results of a survey of 2,252 adults conducted between April 17 and May 19, 2013, by Pew Research. In the same survey, they also found that 56 percent of American adults have smartphones and 34 percent have tablet-type computers (such as an iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Google Nexus, or Kindle Fire). And increasingly, more and more people are using their devices while they shop to compare prices and read product reviews.

Mobile-device-Thinkstock-178485406As of September 16, 2013, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of cell phone owners now use their phone to go online; of those, 34 percent of cellular internet users polled said that they mostly go online using their cell phone and not using some other device such as a desktop, laptop, or tablet computer. Boiled down, that means about 21 percent of all adult cell owners are “cell-mostly internet users,” using their phone or mobile device for most of their online browsing.


What Kinds of Activities are Adult Mobile Device Users Performing?

While Pew Research shows the most popular activity is checking weather reports and forecasts (77 percent), a June 2013 report related to mobile technology shows 65 percent of smartphone owners use their device to get turn-by-turn navigation or directions while driving. As smartphones become more and more prevalent, their simple connectivity and easy access to traffic via Google maps or community-based traffic and navigation apps like Waze make them simple alternatives to expensive in-car navigation systems offered directly by manufacturers.

Pew-Research-How-Americans-Use-their-Cell-PhonesMore than 50 percent of smartphone users are listening to an online radio or music service such as Pandora or Spotify. While not a part of any official Pew survey, it has been my unofficial experience that many users who have Bluetooth streaming in their vehicles may also be using those services while driving. In fact, many manufacturers now offer smartphone connectivity options that allow Pandora, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, and other internet radio programs to stream directly into their car audio system. On a more practical level, Pew research also shows nearly a quarter of smartphone users are getting coupons on deals to use at local businesses.

In a May 2012 study, Pew Research discovered 86 percent of smartphone owners used their phones in the previous 30 days to decide whether to visit a business, such as a restaurant (30 percent); get up-to-the-minute traffic or public transit information to find the fastest way to get somewhere (20 percent); or get help in an emergency situation (19 percent).

In a January 2013 study, Pew Research determined that nearly six in ten cell owners used their phone inside a physical store for assistance or guidance on a purchasing decision during the previous 30 days, to either call a friend for advice about a purchase they were considering (46 percent), look up reviews on a product (28 percent), or to check to see if they could get a better price elsewhere (27 percent).


*The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan "fact tank" that provides information on the issues, attitudes, and trends shaping America and the world. As part of their ongoing research, the Pew Research Center has added additional queries about mobile internet connectivity to their core set of questions, to reveal some very interesting statistics about how Americans are using their devices.  AskPatty accessed Pew Research data on September 17, 2013.


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