14.9% Of U.S. Web Users Connect Exclusively Via Mobile

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As retailers create and evaluate their customer experience and engagement strategies, the pervasive use of mobile devices must always be kept top-of-mind. The latest data show that the use of mobile devices to access the Internet is becoming near-universal. Additionally, the number of Internet users exclusively using mobile continues to grow.

Of the 274.6 million U.S. internet users in 2017, 93.4% sometimes or always use mobile devices to go online. By 2021, 95.4% of users will access the web via a mobile device, according to eMarketer, which compiled data on consumers’ mobile behaviors in the US Mobile Usage & Ad Spend Snapshot.

Both mobile-only and multiscreen Internet usage is on the rise:


  • The number of people exclusively using mobile devices to access the Internet increased 11.1% in 2017, with 14.9% of Internet users now mobile-only;
  • Nearly four out of five (78.6%) people accessed the Internet from both mobile and desktop/laptop devices, up 2.0% from 2016; and
  • Consumers that accessed the web exclusively from a desktop or laptop shrank by 11.8%, and now represent just 6.6% of Internet users.

eMarketer breaks out wearable devices that access the Internet separately. There were 44.7 million users of adult wearables in 2017, up 15.4% over 2016.

Many of the 256.6 million users of Internet-connected mobile devices use more than one type, with 85.7% using smartphones and 61.3% using tablets. A scant 1.2% still use feature phones — basic models capable of handling more than talk and text but without advanced features such as third-party apps.


Apps Dominate Mobile Usage

When mobile device users are online, they spend most of their time, 84%, within mobile apps rather than on the mobile web, but the amount of time varies by type of device. Smartphone users spend 89% of their online time in apps, but tablet users are in apps only 77% of the time. The tablet’s larger screen size makes it more conducive to browsing the web.

Social networking, gaming and video apps take up large portions of mobile users’ time:

  • Mobile users spend 23.9% of their time in social networking apps;
  • 14.3% of their time in gaming apps;
  • 18.7% of their time in video apps; and
  • 43.1% of their time in other applications.

The number of users accessing Facebook from mobile phones rose 7% in 2017, but the growth was much higher for Instagram, with 28.8% more mobile phone users, and Snapchat, with 25.8% more.

In 2017, mobile ad spending was twice that of desktop ad spending in the U.S., and three-quarters of the nearly $60 billion spent on mobile ads was used to serve up ads appearing in apps.



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