77% of U.S. Teens Now Own Cell Phones, Most Send at Least 60 Text Messages per Day


About three quarters of U.S. teens (77%) now have a cell phone. This number is, according to a new report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, up slightly from September 2009 (75%). Looking back to 2004, though, it’s clear how this number has increased dramatically over the last few years. In late 2004, only 45% of teens had cell phones. The interesting trend here, though, is that 80% of older teens (14-17) now own mobile phones (and 31% of these older teens own smartphones), but that the number of younger teens with cell phones has actually dropped a bit (57% vs. 66%).

Unsurprisingly, teens from households with a higher income are more likely to own cell phones and while 83% of suburban kids now own a mobile phone, only 69% of kids in urban areas and 73% in rural areas own one.

The Pew study did not find a statistically relevant difference between boys and girls when it comes to cell phone ownership, but when it comes to texting, girls are still far heavier users than boys. The median number of texts per girl in this study was closer to 90, while boys only send about 50 (the mean numbers, it’s worth noting, are far higher and also far closer to each other: 165 for girls and 168 for boys).  Unsurprisingly, those teens who send the most texts are also more likely to own a smartphone.

As for old-fashioned voice calls, teens – just like the rest of us – are slowly making fewer calls and most teens report that they mostly use text messages to socialize with the people in their lives:

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10:23 am

News Near You: Google News for Mobile Becomes Location-Aware


Google just launched a new feature for Google News for smartphones that can display local news happening around you based on your current location. For a while now, Google has offered local sections on its news aggregator for the desktop, but this is the first time it is adding this section to the mobile version of this product as well.

To make this feature possible, Google News obviously needs to know where you are, so if you open up Google news on your Android smartphone or iPhone today, you will also see a prompt asking you if you want to share your location with Google. If you opt-in to sharing your location, a new “News near me” section will appear at the bottom of the homepage. This feature will only work in the U.S. English edition of Google News for now.

This is obviously not a huge new feature, but it does complete the feature set of Google News for mobile and brings it on par with the desktop version.

10:34 am

Twitter Launches Redesigned Mobile Site for Smartphones


While Twitter has been continually updating its desktop apps and desktop browser experience, its mobile site has been sorely lacking – both with regards to design and functionality. Today, however, Twitter announced that it is launching a new HTML5-based version of its mobile site for smartphones and tablets. This new design will roll out slowly. Today, only a select number of users on iPhones, iPod Touches and Android smartphones will see the new site, but Twitter plans to roll this new version out to all users over the next few weeks.

This new version will replicate some of the functionality of the new desktop version of Twitter. Tweets with images, for example, will display previews of these photos and you will be able to easily switch back and forth between @mentions, messages, your lists and trending topics with the help of a navigation bar at the top of the screen.

Given that Twitter already offers native apps for these platforms, upgrading its mobile site was likely not a priority for the company. At the same time, though, it’s good to see the company finally upgrade the mobile web experience.

2:40 pm

Survey: 1 Out of 3 Smartphone Users Would Rather Give Up Chocolate Than Their Phones


A third of smartphone owners would rather give up chocolate than their devices and 39% of U.S. consumers with smartphones have used their phones in the bathroom. These are some of the more interesting results of a survey that Google just released. It’s no secret that we tend to use our phones to get online (81%) while watching TV (33%), but in this survey Google was more interested in the role these devices play while users are out shopping and looking for local information.

It’s All About Local Info

According to Google, 90% of smartphone searches result in an action, which Google defines along the lines of purchasing something or visiting a business. Most of the time (88%), this action is taken within a day. While 90% sounds like a large number, it does ring true, especially given that most mobile searches are indeed action-oriented and likely focused on getting to a very specific place. This number makes even more sense when we take into account that the survey also found that 95% of smartphone users regularly use their phones to look up local information.

Interestingly, Google did not look into the differences between Android and iPhone users (most likely because the survey is focused on the company’s mobile ad platform, which is available for both devices).

Here are a few additional data points from Google’s survey: [list]

  • 79% of smartphone consumers use their phones to help with shopping, from comparing prices, finding more product info to locating a retailer
  • 74% of smartphone shoppers make a purchase, whether online, in-store, or on their phones
  • 70% use their smartphones while in the store, reflecting varied purchase paths that often begin online or on their phones and brings consumers to the store
  • 24% recommended a brand or product to others as a result of a smartphone search
  • 93% of smartphone owners use their smartphones while at home [/list]

One set of numbers of the survey I don’t fully buy, though, is that “half of those who see a mobile ad take action, with 35% visiting a website and 49% making a purchase.” These numbers just seem too high – especially given what we know about how surfers on the Web generally react to ads.

10:55 am

Study: Consumers Don't Want to Receive Location-Based Coupons While Shopping


Only 8% of UK shoppers say that they would like to receive location-based mobile coupons while they are in the supermarket. According to a new study by U.K.-based Evolution Insights, the majority of shoppers (51%) said that they would rather receive their coupons before going to the store than when they are already in the supermarket.

That is not to say that consumers in the UK don’t want to use their smartphones to receive coupons at all. Indeed, only a minority (36%) of respondents said that they would not “consider the use of digital media for initiatives such as digital coupons and shopping lists at all.” Judging from the results of this study, though, most consumers today are not interested in what many location-based startups expect to be their main tool for generating revenue.


While there has been a lot of hype around location in the tech world over the last few months, these sobering results show that this technology is still far away from mainstream adoption. As Evolution Insight’s lead analyst James Johnson notes, “the rise of GPS enabled smartphones brings opportunities to target shoppers with marketing based upon their actual location. But do grocery shoppers really want to be interrupted with the latest coupons and deals on their mobile when they walk past or enter the supermarket?”

It’s worth noting that just a month ago, a similar study in U.S. found higher acceptance rates for in-store coupon delivery. This study, however, also found that only about 14% of U.S. shoppers currently use mobile coupons.

Image Credit: Flickr user ralphogaboom.

12:06 pm