May 7, 2012

Just-in-time Information through Mobile Connections

Overview

Some 70% of all cell phone owners and 86% of smartphone owners have used their phones in the previous 30 days to perform at least one of the following activities:

  • Coordinate a meeting or get-together — 41% of cell phone owners have done this in the past 30 days.
  • Solve an unexpected problem that they or someone else had encountered – 35% have used their phones to do this in the past 30 days.
  • Decide whether to visit a business, such as a restaurant — 30% have used their phone to do this in the past 30 days.
  • Find information to help settle an argument they were having — 27% have used their phone to get information for that reason in the past 30 days.
  • Look up a score of a sporting event — 23% have used their phone to do that in the past 30 days.
  • Get up-to-the-minute traffic or public transit information to find the fastest way to get somewhere – 20% have used their phone to get that kind of information in the past 30 days.
  • Get help in an emergency situation — 19% have used their phone to do that in the past 30 days.

Overall, these “just-in-time” cell users—defined as anyone who has done one or more of the above activities using their phone in the preceding 30 days—amount to 62% of the entire adult population.

Younger cell phone users are more likely than older users to have performed most of these activities. In all, 88% of the cell phone owners ages 18-29 had performed one of these activities in the past 30 days, compared with 76% of the cell owners ages 30-49, 57% of the cell owners ages 50-64, and 46% of the cell owners age 65 and older.

There are also differences between men and women, parents of minor children and non-parents, and among whites, African-Americans, and Hispanics on some of these activities. For instance:

  • Men who own cells are more likely than women cell owners to have used their phones in the past 30 days to look up information that settles an argument or disagreement: 31% of males who own cells have done this, compared with 22% of women cell owners.
  • White cell phone owners are more likely than minorities to have used their phones to coordinate a gathering in the past 30 days. Some 43% of white cell owners have done this, compared with 33% of African-Americans who own cells and 34% of Hispanic cell owners.
  • African-American cell owners are more likely than whites to have used their phones in the past month to get up-to-the-minute traffic or public transit information: 31% vs. 16%.

These just-in-time information searches take place in the wider context of people using their smartphones to get needed information right away. In this survey, we also asked about using cell phones to get turn-by-turn navigation or directions while driving. Some 65% of smartphone owners say they have done that, with 15% doing so on a typical day.

These findings come from a nationally representative survey by the Pew Internet Project conducted between March 15 and April 3, 2012 among 2,254 adults age 18 and older. The margin of error on the full sample is 2 percentage points. Some 1,954 cell owners were part of the sample. The margin of error of questions asked of them is 3 percentage points.

Cite this publication: Lee Rainie and Susannah Fox. “Just-in-time Information through Mobile Connections.” Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C. (May 7, 2012) http://www.pewinternet.org/2012/05/07/just-in-time-information-through-mobile-connections/, accessed on July 23, 2014.