As consumers increasingly rely on smartphones as a major source of Internet access, a new GfK analysis shows that social media represents by far the largest share of online time via these devices. Social sites and activities account for almost one-third (31%) of smartphone online minutes – double the proportion for email, which ranks second at 16%.
The analysis also points out differences in online activities when using PCs (laptops and desktop computers) versus smartphones. Social media represents only 18% of time spent on the Internet via PCs – the same percentage as email, and only slightly higher than online video (13%) and search (11%).
Phones now account for 17% of total time spent with the Internet across all devices, compared to 12% in 2011, according to research from GfK’s MultiMedia Mentor®. Desktop and laptop computers, by contrast, have dropped off considerably, representing 73% of Internet time, compared to 83% a year ago. Tablets account for 6% of online time – double the 2011 figure of 3%; and Internet TVs also doubled, from 2% of online time in 2011 to 4% this year.
Trend data show that the purposeful Internet use encouraged by smartphone apps – checking social sites and email – may be affecting how consumers approach online time via PCs, as well. The percent of time devoted to uncategorized “Other” Internet activities on PCs has dropped by almost half in just a year, from 37% in 2011 to 20% in 2012. Meanwhile, time spent accessing online video via PCs has essentially doubled, from a 7% share to 13%, and time with social media and email also grew.
“Reading in-the-moment status updates and posting short comments, replies and likes are activities tailor-made for smartphones,” said Robert DeFelice, vice president on GfK’s Media team. “Apps encourage a targeted, deliberate approach to online time that consumers may not even clearly associate with ‘the Internet’. On a PC, by contrast, people open browsers to access social media, email, and a variety of other sites; but their interest in going beyond a familiar repertoire of activities, even on the PC, seems to be dwindling.”