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“New” Findings on Mobile Web Living



The Pew Research Center has released a report that gives some form to what many of us already know throughmobile-usage-image experience; mobile web use takes web users deeper into their digital existence. As noted over at MediaPost the study takes a stab at coining some new phrases to describe the various types of people using the mobile web as part of their lives including “digital collaborator”, “ambivalent networker” and “drifting surfer”. While creating names for groups of people can be fun that particular set of names isn’t very flattering aside from the collaboration concept. Let’s look a little closer.

First, I will approach this a little differently than the MediaPost article because when I was done reading it I was pretty disappointed. Here’s why. This great study that gives us the ‘latest and greatest’ updates on our mobile lifestyle was based on phone interviews that were conducted in December of 2007! Of the total 3,500 people contacted over 1,500 of those were part of following up on research that was conducted in early 2006. This detail was reserved for the last paragraph which took the shine off these “new” findings for sure. We live in an era where our economy can shed millions of jobs in just a few short months so I personally think that unless this was a typo we can assume this data is already very different.

Back to the findings. While still in the minority the percentage of people finding themselves more dependent on their mobile connection to the net (40%) is a pretty intense group. At the time the other 60% were tethered to their desktop access but not real ready to make the jump to a 24/7 mobile connection lifestyle. We’ll highlight the groups back in the day that were the largest percentages.

For mobile users

  • Digital Collaborators: (8% of the population) Very much about continual information exchange with others, as they frequently interact with others to create and share content or express themselves.
  • Ambivalent Networkers: (7%) Extremely active in using social networking sites and accessing digital resources “on the go,” yet aren’t always thrilled to be contacted by others.
  • Roving Nodes: (9%) Active managers of their social lives via basic applications–texting and emailing–to connect with others, pass along information, and improve personal productivity.

Stationary media users include:

  • Desktop Veterans: (13%) Tech-oriented, but in a “year 2004″ kind of way. They consume online information and connect with others through traditional means such as email on a high-speed home connection.
  • Tech Indifferent: (10%) Have limited online access at home, and while most have cell phones, they bristle at their intrusiveness.
  • Off the Network: (14%) Lack the tools for connecting digitally, with neither online access or cell phones.

So while interesting, this “new” study seems dated already. What is your view from a totally unscientific perspective on what percentage of the population OVERALL is more dependent on mobile web usage? How do you categorize yourself? Is your mobile web usage a dependency or a fun diversion? How long will it take for everyone to have a computer hanging off their ear when they leave their home in the morning? Oh yea, and what will it all mean to we Internet marketers?