Mobile Is This Week’s Hot Topic

By Chris McGovern, Manager, Research Development, Connected Nation

There’s a lot of talk this week about mobile devices and how we use them. Steve Jobs just unveiled Apple’s new iPad 2. A report from game developer PopCap Games estimated that over one-quarter of American mobile phone owners (28%) used their phone to play games in the past month (by the way, gamers, this study also found that we are being seriously outpaced by mobile gamers in the UK).

Last but not least, wireless strategist Chetan Sharma reported that the wireless data market in Q4 2010 increased 5% from Q3 2010 and 23% from 2009 (no small feat in the midst of a recession). Connected devices like tablet computers and eReaders now account for 7% of the mobile data market and they represent the fastest-growing segment of mobile US subscriptions. In fact, for the first time ever, smart phone shipments outpaced the traditional computer segment (including desktops, notebooks, and netbooks) in 2010.

More and more Americans are going online via mobile devices, and demographic groups who have historically been less likely to own home computers (such as African Americans) are adopting mobile broadband at a growing rate. Across the states and territories served by Connected Nation 23.4 million adults subscribe to mobile broadband service.

The NTIA’s recently-released National Broadband Map shows that 96.15% of Americans have access to terrestrial mobile broadband, and during a recent trip to Michigan (a state served by Connect Michigan, a subsidiary of Connected Nation) President Obama outlined his goal of expanding wireless broadband to 98% of all Americans .

Many analysts are asking whether these subscribers are getting the same value from their mobile devices as those who access broadband on a home computer. Is a smart phone adequate for a child to conduct research for schoolwork or an out-of-work parent to apply for a job? Is there an application gap between mobile and fixed broadband subscribers? Connected Nation intends to explore this issue in the year to come.

How do you use your mobile broadband service? Are there activities that are easier on your mobile device than on your home computer? Are there activities you would like to pursue on your mobile device but find it difficult or impossible to do? Tell us at

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