15 Mobile UX Facts & Insights (2017)

Jeff Sauro, PhD

Mobile technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace.

To help keep up, we pulled together relevant insights about the mobile user experience and mobile usage in general.

This is an updated article to the 2016, 2015, and 2013 articles based on published data and our own mobile UX research.

  1. Cellphones are ubiquitous. A Pew Research report suggests that 95% of Americans own a cellphone; around 77% of U.S. adults own a smartphone, which is up from 68% from last year’s report. Smartphone ownership rate is highest in South Korea (88%) and lowest in Ethiopia (4%). This rate also varies by age, with 97-98% of millennials (18-34) owning a smartphone.
  2. Smartphone ownership rates in emerging and developing nations continue to rise at an extraordinary rate, climbing from around 21% in 2013 to 37% in 2015. There continues to be a gender gap, with more men than women reporting smartphone ownership and Internet access across many nations. Forecasters expect smartphone users to hit 2.32 billion worldwide in 2017.
  3. Around half of the U.S. population owns a tablet. This hasn’t changed much for years. Tablet ownership differs by reported level of education — 62% of college graduates versus 35% of those with a high school diploma report owning a tablet.
  4. Mobile phone ownership is expected to overtake desktop ownership by 2018. People use tablets mostly to use search engines, check email, watch online videos, and visit social networks. Smartphones are mostly used to access the Internet, take photos/videos, receive/send text messages, and look up directions.
  5. Desktop usage is still important for daytime work, but smartphones and tablets dominate in the evening. People use tablets to check search engines (23%), visit social media, (19%), and check email (19%).
  6. Android is used more than iOS and now Windows too. Android is dominant in the U.S. with around 64% market share (down a nominal 3% from last year’s report) and its share is even more dominant worldwide.
  7. On average around 27 apps are used per month and around 6-10 are used in a week.  People spend, on average, about 40 hours a month on their mobile apps. Women spend, on average, about 42 hours a month, whereas men spend 39 hours a month. App usage also varies by age. Smartphone users, ages 18-24, access around 25 apps per month. 25-49 year olds access 28 apps, 50-60 year olds access 25 apps, and 65+ access an average of 21 apps per month.
  8. Mobile applications are predominantly used for killing time, but a large percentage of online shopping now happen on mobile phones. Mobile commerce is expected to reach 45% of the e-commerce market or $284 billion by 2020.
  9. Around 69% of U.S. adults use social media. As of May 2017, the most popular social networking apps in the U.S. (based on the number of mobile users each month) are: Facebook (114 million mobile users), Facebook Messenger (104 million), Instagram (56 million), and Google Hangouts (45 million). Continuing with usage figures, around half the time is spent on a single app, and 80% is spent on the top three apps. In the U.S., last year Pokemon GO broke records for its usage but now 4 out of 5 users have quit.
  10. People use their phones around 80 times each day; 69% of digital time is spent on mobile, versus 31% on desktop.
  11. Mobile delays are worse than standing in line and are considered more stressful than watching horror movies!
  12. Users’ time spent on smartphones continues to increase (especially around the holidays), and people still prefer shopping on mobile websites to apps. 58% of mobile revenue comes from mobile websites versus native applications.
  13. Most (72%) smartphone shoppers research an item before they make a purchase, including those who check item prices (70%) and those who locate a store to make their desired product purchase (60%).
  14. Conversion rates from tablets are still higher than smartphones and QR codes still aren’t terribly popular.
  15. Though portrait orientation is slightly more preferred to landscape (60% versus 40%), users noted that how they hold their devices depends both on the device size and on the activity, such as watching videos, playing games, reading, or web browsing.
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