More and more Americans taking the wireless road to the Web

More Americans are accessing the Internet using wireless mobile devices such as smartphones and laptops, according to a study released by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

“Use of the Internet on mobile devices has grown sharply from the end of 2007 to the beginning of 2009,” with 56 percent of Americans saying that have “at some point used wireless means for online access,” the Pew Center said…

More Americans in 2009 were turning to their handheld for non-voice data activities,” the Pew Center said in its report…

“I think smartphones certainly have a good deal to do with the growth in use of mobile access,” said John B. Horrigan, Pew Internet Project associate director of research. “The devices have more capabilities, networks are more readily available, and this means people are drawn to taking advantage of mobile resources.”

Another key finding, Pew said, is that blacks are “the most active users of the mobile Internet,” with 48 percent saying they have “at one time used the Internet on a mobile device.” On an “average day, 29 percent go online with a handheld — both figures are half again the national average,” Pew said…

For most Americans, Horrigan said, “mobile access is mainly another option for access; among all Americans who have used the mobile Internet, 83 percent have broadband at home. For African-Americans, the story is a bit different; among African-Americans who have used the Internet on a mobile device, 64 percent have broadband at home…

Mistique Cano, vice president of communications for the national Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, said smartphones “aren’t an equalizer as much as they’re a stop-gap. Many African-Americans still don’t have access to affordable broadband. Even though mobile technology gets better every day, there are still many things you can’t yet do on a phone.”

Pew said laptops were cited as the main way most Americans get online wirelessly, with 39 percent saying it is their “most prevalent means of wireless access,” and 32 percent saying they have used a cell phone “or other hand-held device to check e-mail, access the Internet for information, or send instant messages.”

I hadn’t realized the hardware demographic was changing this dynamically in the U.S.. I’ve read similar studies about China and India – and I’ll bet the same is happening in Japan and Korea even though broadband access to easier and cheaper in the latter two nations.

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