Survey Research in 2012: The #1 Top Tech Development of 2011

#1 The Pew Internet & American Life Project Smartphone Report 

Americans love their smartphones more than ever, according to the Pew Research Center. In July, new findings indicated that 35% of Americans own smartphones. When asked, 72% of owners spoke positively about their smartphones. Certain demographic subpopulations use smartphones more than others, including college educated, those with household incomes over $75,000, 18-44 year-olds, and African Americans and Latinos.

Among smartphone owners, 25% say they mostly go online using their phones rather than a computer. This is particularly true for smartphone users who are younger than 30, nonwhite, and have lower than average income and education levels.

What’s important about these findings for the future of social research? It’s noteworthy how positively people feel about these mobile devices. Respondents used words like “convenient,” “love,” “satisfied,” and “necessity” to describe how they feel about their smartphones. More data collection efforts should be designed to incorporate mobile surveys or other data capture tools using smartphones simply because people like to use them. Given the overwhelmingly positive thoughts people have about their smartphones, the 35% ownership rate can be expected to grow as they become accessible to other users.

Going forward, studies incorporating a smartphone sample should take advantage of smartphone apps because, unlike web, SMS, and voice, these are unique to smartphones. Mobile design should be considered when designing standard web surveys as well, given that 9% of Americans use smartphones only for Internet access. Finally, studies targeting African Americans, Latinos, young people, and the affluent should consider mobile data collection modes since these populations are more likely to be smartphone users.

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