Is your best relationship with your smartphone? A new IDC report, sponsored by Facebook, suggests it might be.
The key finding of the study, "Always Connected -- How Smartphones and Social Keep Us Engaged," is that " + social = connectedness." The sense of being always connected is the key driver, according to IDC, and it spans any divisions between demographics, brands, services or applications. And, the report points out, the key thing to remember is that, although they are called phones, these devices are actually pocketable, personal computers.
For most users, the smartphone spends more time with its users than any family member or friend. Sixty-three percent of smartphone owners have their phone with them for all but one hour in the awake part of a day, while nearly 80 percent have it for all but two hours. About half of everyone in the U.S. has a smartphone, slightly more than 180 million people this year. By 2017, that's expected to reach more than 220 million users.
'Increased Social Connectedness'
Four out of five smartphone owners tend to connect via their smartphone within 15 minutes of awakening in the morning. In fact, 62 percent reach for it as soon as they wake up, including 44 percent who use it as an alarm clock. Those numbers are even higher for 18- to 24-year-olds. "Rather than feeling overwhelmed by it," the report said, "we enjoy and value this increased social connectedness."
The smartphone is embedded in activities through the day. Nearly half of respondents use it during errands, while shopping, while making dinner or even at the gym. Social apps that have built-in calls-to-action, like posting status updates and check-ins, are driving use at social events. As with daily activities, the smartphone is heavily used for social communication, most notably for Facebook, during such social activities as going to a meeting or a class, going out to eat or for drinks, attending a live event or going to the movies.
Then There's Voice
The study, conducted over a week with more than 7,000 users aged 18 to 44, said that the most-used apps were, in order: e-mail, used by 78 percent, Web browsing (73 percent), Facebook (70 percent), maps/directions (64 percent) and games (60 percent). Others, ranging from slightly more than 50 percent to 37 percent, were sharing/posting photos, general search, local search, reading news and sports, and watching TV/video.
The key indicator in how much the phone's role has changed is that one of the least used applications is making a voice call. Only 16 percent of the time spent communicating is via voice, while 84 percent involves text messaging, e-mail or social networks.
But voice isn't completely left out in terms of helping people feel connected. Forty-nine percent of respondents feel connected when using texting or messaging, 43 percent when talking on the phone, and 40 percent when messaging on Facebook.