Smartphones Now Account for 70% of US Digital Media Time

November 20, 2019

Smartphones, which are cutting into the time spent with traditional media continue to account for a growing share of time spent with digital media. In the US, smartphones now account for fully 70% of total time spent with digital media, per a recent presentation [download page] by Comscore.

Combined with tablet use, mobile devices represented more than three-quarters (77%) of digital media time during June 2019, per Comscore’s report, up from 66% during the same month in 2017. The surge in mobile use has of course come at the expense of desktop: these devices represented just 23% of the time that Americans spent with digital media in June, down from 34% the same month in 2018.

Mobile-heavy categories in the US include Games (where the devices represent 94% of digital time), Social Media (92% share) and Entertainment (83%).

Among 17 categories identified, just 3 are majority desktop. Those are Education (77% share), Government (72%), and Family & Youth (62%).

Tablets Lag, Apps Dominate

Not all mobile devices are driving mobile’s ascent, though. Tablet apps and tablet web both saw slight dips in their share of time spent with digital media between June 2017 and June 2019. Combined, they now occupy just 7% of Americans’ digital media time.

The highest concentration of time spent with digital media on smartphones is spent on apps. Indeed, while in 2017 smartphone apps accounted for half of the time Americans spent with digital media, they now now account for almost two-thirds (63%).

Smartphone’s dominance over desktop comes amid recent data from Pew Research Institute revealing that the number of smartphone owners in the US exceeds the number with home broadband. Other research from Pew noted that the number of Americans mostly go online using their smartphones is increasing.

Mobile apps, in general, are where people around the world are spending the majority of their digital media time. In the US, 89% of mobile minutes are spent on apps. Other countries such as Indonesia (96%), Mexico (95%) and Argentina (94%) spend even more of their mobile time with apps.

Boomers Embrace Mobile

As expected, the Comscore report indicates that the younger generations in the US are the most apt to spend heavy portions of their digital media time on mobile devices. Some 72% of the minutes 18-24-year-olds spend with digital media are spent in smartphone apps. Similarly, 13-17-year-olds are spending 70% of their digital media minutes in smartphone apps.

Younger Americans spending most of their digital minutes in smartphone apps may not be news to anyone. That’s especially the case considering that, for entertainment purposes alone, 3 in 10 are now using their smartphone as their primary device.

What may be more remarkable is the amount of time older Americans are spending with smartphone apps. Comscore’s research found that just less than two-thirds (65%) of the time that younger Boomers (55-64-year-olds) spend with digital media is spent in smartphone apps. This matches the amount of digital media time that 44-54-year-olds spend with smartphone apps. Smartphone adoption is likely a large driver here: per the Pew Research Institute, nearly 7 in 10 Baby Boomers in the US now own a smartphone.

Interestingly, 55-64-year-olds actually devote a smaller percentage of their total digital media time to desktop devices (19%) than do the population at-large (23%). And even people ages 65 and older spend only one-third of their digital media time with desktops.

The full presentation can be downloaded here.

About the Data: Results are based on Comscore MMXⓇ Multi-Platform, Total Minutes, June 2017 and June 2019, US and Comscore Media MetrixⓇ, Total Minutes, June 2017 and June 2019, US.

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