The growing mobile landscape is producing a “multi-platform” news consumer no longer content to “read all about it.”
Half of U.S. adults—a dramatic increase over last year--are now connected to the Internet through a tablet computer or smartphone, according to a comprehensive new study conducted by Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism in collaboration with The Economist Group. And news is an important part of what these users do on their mobile devices. Almost two-thirds of tablet (64 percent) and smartphone (62 percent) owners say they use the devices for news at least weekly.
This brave new world of news consumption has been hastened by the rapid acceptance of tablet computers, the Pew report finds. Twenty-two percent—double the number from last year—are tablet owners, while another 3 percent of adults regularly use a tablet owned by someone else in their home (another 23 percent, who do not own a tablet, plan to jump on the bandwagon in the next six months).
Almost half (44 percent) of U.S. adults own a smartphone, up from 35 percent in May 2011, the survey found.
This new generation of mobile news consumers is delving beyond checking the headlines on their devices, although nearly all use them to check for news updates, Pew reports. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of respondents said they read in-depth articles at least sometimes, including 19 percent who report doing so daily, Sixty-one percent of smartphone news consumers read longer stories sometimes, while 11 percent do so regularly.
The survey of 9,513 U.S. adults finds that most tablet and smartphone users are content with accessing the news on their browsers (60 percent) instead of news apps (23 percent). There is also resistance to paying for content on mobile devices. Only 24 percent of respondents are considering dropping their print subscriptions for a digital one. These users tend to be younger, who are traditionally more tech-savvy).
How does the “multi-platform” user get their news? Fifty-four percent of tablet news users also get news on a smartphone, while 77 percent get news on a desktop or laptop computer, half get their news in print, and one-quarter get news on all four platforms. Among smartphone users, 47 percent also still get news in print while 75 percent get news on their laptop/desktop and 28 percent get the news on a tablet.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.