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Are Smartphone and Tablet Users the New Mobile Majority?

The shift to hand-held devices poses challenges for advertisers and retailers . / Credit: Mobile shopping image via Shutterstock

Although consumers do not solely use a mobile device to access Google, email, Facebook and retailer websites, many of them would rather use a smartphone or tablet instead of a desktop or laptop computer, opting out of traditional online advertising in the process, a new survey shows. This shift to hand-held devices poses challenges for advertisers and retailers.

A majority of mobile users say they use their devices exclusively when it comes to Internet searches and accessing personal email, according to a study of a representative panel of 326 smartphone and tablet users sponsored by Prosper Mobile Insights, a multi-platform solutions provider. Their preferences extend to the way they access specific sites such as Facebook and retailer websites.

Nearly two-thirds (60.2 percent) of mobile users would prefer to use a smartphone or tablet to access Facebook, while about a third (32.5 percent) prefer to view retail websites that way.

[Mobile Shoppers Changing Face of Retail]

While mobile preference is strong for Internet search and email access, smartphones and tablets are not necessarily equipped to replace desktop and laptop computers, the survey found. Mobile users appear quite divided on the issue: 38.7 percent say it is not at all or not very likely mobile devices will replace computers, while 39.9 percent say it is somewhat/very likely. 21.5 percent are neutral.

Nonetheless, the consumer shift to smaller screens could present a big challenge for advertisers and retailers.

"For advertisers, it is important to note that some of the biggest sites may be seeing less traffic on computer screens and more on smartphones or tablets," said Pam Goodfellow, consumer insights director at BIGinsight, the consumer research arm of Prosper Mobile Insights. “These shoppers are bypassing traditional banner ads, suggested and sponsored sites and many targeted social ads. While the majority still prefers to browse retailer websites on a desktop or laptop, a relatively large proportion—over 30 percent—will reach for a mobile device first, and we only expect this m-commerce trend to grow. As we head into the all-important holiday season, mobile-capable sites will be a must for any retailer hoping to capitalize on today’s increasingly tech-savvy shoppers."

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith. We're also on Facebook & Google+.

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.

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