Majority of US Mobile Users Carry Phone ‘At All Times’

November 28, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Email | Media & Entertainment | Retail & E-Commerce | Technology | Telecom | Youth & Gen X

Nearly 60% of mobile-phone users say carry their cell phone with them “at all times” – including inside their home – and a growing number say their device plays an important role in many day-to-day aspects of their lives, according to a study by Knowledge Networks.


The study, “How People Use Cell Phones,” finds that – in addition to being used for traditional communication, such as conversation, texting and email – mobile phones are playing an increasingly important role in shopping decisions, as entertainment hubs, for general-purpose research and for GPS-type functions.

Key survey findings:

  • The number of respondents who say they carry their phones “at all times” is up 50% since a 2002 Knowledge Networks analysis.
  • 32% say they call friends or family “all the time” or “often” when making shopping decisions, a figure that jumps to 45% among those ages 18-34. Growing numbers of shoppers also use their phones to connect to coupons and to find stores with the merchandise they want.


  • When asked an open-ended question about what they dislike about their cell phones, respondents most often (15%) said “nothing.”
  • Montly use of the internet via mobile phones is limited to 13% of all cell phone owners, but is growing.

Young want more features

Enthusiasm for a variety of mobile phone applications, such as watching video or using GPS-type functions, is noticeably higher among younger generations. The survey found that 61% of Gen Y consumers -also known as Millennials – say “the more features the better” on a cell phone, compared with only 27% of Boomers.

Age-specific differences:

  • Members of Generation Y (ages 13 to 29) send an average of 20 text messages daily, compared to just 2 for Generation X (30-43) and less than one for Baby Boomers (age 44-64).


  • Teens are four times as likely to report having watched TV or video on their phones as adults (8% vs. 2%).

“Mobile phones are emerging as a powerful complement to the web, in both entertainment and information seeking,” said David Tice, VP and group account director, Knowledge Networks. “Many people and businesses could not function without the web today, and the ‘always-with-me’ pervasiveness of cell phones expands the reach of internet functionality. As standard phones get upgraded with web connections and location-based-features, their utility and necessity will only increase. Consumers are also clearly open to mobile advertising concepts that provide them real value in exchange for their attention to a marketing message.”

Other data from Knowledge Networks affirms a connection between use of some advanced mobile phone features and heavy use of other media. For example, consumers (age 18-64) who use cell-phone video spend 27% more time per week with media (more than 2 hours or more/day) compared with all mobile phone owners. This includes 60% more time on the internet, and almost triple the amount of time with videogames.

About the research: The findings are produced as part of Knowledge Networks’ Home Technology Monitor research on consumers’ ownership and use of new and established media technologies. The study included interviews with 765 members (age 13-64) of KnowledgePanel and an in-depth ethnographic study of cellular phone use by consumers in different households. Selected benchmark trends vs. a 2002 study of cellular phone use are also included.

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