Mobile Access 2010

Principal findings: Six in ten Americans go online wirelessly using a laptop or cell phone; African-Americans and 18-29 year olds lead the way in the use of cell phone data applications, but older adults are gaining ground.

Six in ten adult Americans are now wireless internet users, and mobile data applications have grown more popular over the last year.

As of May 2010, 59% of all adult Americans go online wirelessly. Our definition of a wireless internet user includes the following activities:

  • Going online with a laptop using a wi-fi connection or mobile broadband card. Roughly half of all adults (47%) go online in this way, up from the 39% who did so at a similar point in 2009.
  • Use the internet, email or instant messaging on a cell phone. Two in five adults (40%) do at least one of these using a mobile device, an increase from the 32% of adults who did so in 2009.

Taken together, 59% of American adults now go online wirelessly using either a laptop or cell phone, an increase over the 51% of Americans who did so at a similar point in 2009.

Cell phone ownership has remained stable over the last year, but users are taking advantage of a much wider range of their phones’ capabilities compared with a similar point in 2009. Of the eight mobile data applications we asked about in both 2009 and 2010, all showed statistically significant year-to-year growth.

This year we also asked for the first time about seven additional cell phone activities. Among all cell phone owners:

  • 54% have used their mobile device to send someone a photo or video
  • 23% have accessed a social networking site using their phone
  • 20% have used their phone to watch a video
  • 15% have posted a photo or video online
  • 11% have purchased a product using their phone
  • 11% have made a charitable donation by text message
  • 10% have used their mobile phones to access a status update service such as Twitter

Special Reports