Email is still the dominant activity for US mobile users

Email fights off the competition from social media on mobile

US consumers are still loyal to email on their phones despite the rise of social networking, and in fact email use actually increased rather than decreased over the last year.

The research comes from a survey, entitled What Americans Do Online, and compares and contrasts PC and mobile behaviour, and the way US consumers spend their Internet time on their mobile phones paints a slightly different picture to that of Internet use from computers.

In Nielsen’s survey of mobile web users, there is a double-digit (28%) rise in the prevalence of social networking behaviour, but the dominance of email activity on mobile devices continue with an increase from 37.4% to 41.6% of US mobile Internet time.

Portals remain as the second heaviest activity on mobile Internet (11.6% share of time), despite their double digit decline and social networking’s rise to account for 10.5% share means the gap is much smaller than a year ago (14.3% vs. 8.3%).

Other mobile Internet activities seeing significant growth include music and video/movies, both seeing 20% plus increases in share of activity year over year. As these destinations gain share, it’s at the cost of other content consumption – both news/current events and sports destinations saw more than a 20% drop in share of US mobile Internet time.

“Although we see similar characteristics amongst pc and mobile internet use, the way their activity is allocated is still pretty contrasting, added Martin.  While convergence will continue, the unique characteristics of computers and mobiles, both in their features and when and where they are used mean that mobile Internet behaviour mirroring its PC counterpart is still some way off.”

The PC part of the study shows that revealed that Americans spend a third their online time (36%) communicating and networking across social networks, blogs, personal email and instant messaging.

Online games overtook personal email to become the second most heavily used activity behind social networks – accounting for 10% of all US Internet time. Email dropped from 11.5% of time to 8.3%.

Despite some predictions otherwise, the rise of social networking hasn’t pushed email and instant messaging into obscurity just yet. Although both saw double-digit declines in share of time, email remains as the third heaviest activity online (8.3% share of time) while instant messaging is fifth, accounting for four percent of Americans online time.

“Despite the almost unlimited nature of what you can do on the web, 40% of US online time is spent on just three activities – social networking, playing games and emailing leaving a whole lot of other sectors fighting for a declining share of the online pie,” said Nielsen analyst Dave Martin.

Of the most heavily-used sectors, videos/movies was the only other to experience a significant growth in share of US activity online. Its share of activity grew relatively by 12% from 3.5 to 3.9%.  June 2010 was a major milestone for US online video as the number of videos streamed passed the 10 billion mark. The average American consumer streaming online video spent 3 hours 15 minutes doing so during the month.

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