PhotoAs the density of Americans owning a smartphone continues to grow -- currently at 87 percent -- the use of those smartphones as the consumer’s go-to digital device is also growing.

However, a new Pew Research Center study discovers that smartphone owners who use a phone as their online connector, use them differently than they might with a regular computer.

If you’re guessing it’s the younger consumer -- the 18-to 29-year-olds -- leading the way, you’d be right. That group’s use is trending from 41 percent in 2013 to 58 percent in 2019. But, the growth is consistent across all demographics. Take the share of adults ages 30 to 49, for instance. Their use of a smartphone to go online has nearly doubled – from 24 percent in 2013 to 47 percent today.

“These trends are part of a broader shift toward mobile technology that has changed the way people do everything from getting news to applying for jobs,” wrote Monica Anderson, a senior researcher at Pew.

“Indeed, mobile devices are not simply being used more often to go online – some Americans are forgoing traditional broadband at home altogether in favor of their smartphone. A majority of adults say they subscribe to home broadband, but about one-in-four (27 percent) do not. And growing shares of these non-adopters cite their mobile phone as a reason for not subscribing to these services.”

Wait a minute

Dropping broadband to do… everything via the phone? Like watch movies, listen to music, and shop everything?

Yep. And there are two simple reasons:

  • For one, smartphones have become so, well, smart, that digital consumers can do everything they want or need to do online. Pew found that the 45 percent who go that route has nearly doubled, many citing the savings from ditching their monthly home broadband subscription. In addition, 80 percent of those non-broadband users say they’re simply not interested in getting high-speed connections at home.

  • And, two, consumers are simply moving away from buying desktops, laptops, and tablets. That piece of the pie has fallen from 53 percent in 2013 to 30 percent today.

I’m fine as it is, thanks

Don’t care about broadband? You’re represented in the study, too. On the non-broadband user side, Pew notes that crowd never had high-speed internet at home to begin with, don’t show much interest in having it in the future.

“In previous Center surveys, Americans of all kinds have linked not having broadband to a number of disadvantages -- including difficulties finding job information or less access to government services,” Anderson said. “Despite these perceived challenges, non-adopters show little interest in becoming home broadband users in the future.”

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