Imagine for a moment that you are suddenly marooned on a desert island. Aside from basic necessities like food and water, what from your civilized past would you miss the most? If you said your mobile device, you are not alone according to recent mobile consumer trends (though we can’t guarantee the connectivity).

Mobile devices have evolved over time from simple phones with voice and internet capabilities to complex connected data-driven smartphones that have become a virtual extension of ourselves that we are, on the whole, unable to live without. Moving well beyond being just a vehicle for communicating, mobile devices have transformed to a point where they have helped create new markets such as mobile payments (mPayments), the Internet of Things (IoT), location-based advertising, virtual reality, and an entire ecosystem of apps which includes social media.  Mobile devices are now so ubiquitous that anyone without access to one will find it difficult to access the full spectrum of activities that define a growing portion of our lives as well as the broader global economy.

For six years, Deloitte has been commissioning its Global Mobile Consumer Survey, in which consumers of all ages from across the globe answer questions about their mobile technology usage. The latest survey confirmed that mobile has become indispensable across all demographics and geographies.

Here are eight trends that resulted from the U.S. version of the survey:

·      Mobile phone usage is up across the board. The time it takes for us to pick up our phones in the morning continues to shrink: more than 40% of consumers check their phones within five minutes of waking up. As a first thing, we check our IM and text messages (35%), followed by emails (22%). During the day, we look at our phones approximately 47 times and that number rises to 82 for 18 to 24-year-olds. This translates into more than 9 Billion “looks” per day in the U.S. alone – up 13% from 2015. Once the day is over, over 30% of consumers check their devices five minutes before going to sleep, and an astonishing 50% do so in the middle of the night.

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·      Changing device landscape. Growth in smartphone penetration has begun to slow, with a 7% increase this year compared with 12% last year. This is not entirely surprising given that a majority of people already own a smartphone. On the other hand, growth in less saturated segments of the market (those 45 and older) is 3 times the CAGR over the last 3 years compared to 18-24 year olds (21% vs. 8% respectively). In addition, smart watches tripled their market penetration from 4% to 12% today, while fitness bands reached 17% from last year’s 10%. Although these numbers are still relatively small in comparison, the growth in wearables is good news for smartphones since it cements their role as an information and communication hub.

·      We just can’t put our devices down. Outside of work, almost all consumers surveyed (93%) are using their phones while shopping. Spending leisure time and watching TV follow closely at 90% and 89% respectively. More than half of consumers (58%) report they have used their phones to browse a shopping website or app, and more than a third (38%) say they do so at least once a week. Nearly 40% say they have used their phones to pay for products.

·      The Consumer-IoT market is taking shape. Interest in home-based IoT showed the largest year-over-year increase, jumping 12 percentage points from 53% to 65%, surpassing interest in wearables. Nearly two-thirds (62%) say they would consider eventually owning or riding in an autonomous car. Similarly, those “very” interested in purchasing an autonomous vehicle has shot up from 18% in 2015 to 27% in this year, a relative increase of 50%.

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·      mPayments usage remains steady. Compared to last year, we see relatively flat in-store mPayments usage. Concerns about security has declined but still tops the list of reasons not to use, while “not seeing benefits of mPayments” on the other hand has increased.  Hence, for those companies in the mPayemnts ecosystem, it seems that defining a value proposition in the minds of consumers on “why” to use mPayments as opposed to a more traditional means of payment remains one of the most significant hurdles to mass-market success. It’s not all about customer value proposition though – awareness by retailers, training by sales assoc

An example of a Digital Conversation being run...
An example of a Digital Conversation being run on a mobile device (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

iates and other factors will all be key to mPayments success. Still, consumers aren’t giving up – there is still recognition of potential in a wide-range of mPayments use cases.

·      Security and privacy are still top of mind. Consumers are not necessarily averse to sharing information, and in fact their willingness to do so has increased since last year, particularly among younger consumers. They just want to have some say in determining what information gets shared. For example, more than half of consumers who say they are interested in connected devices express willingness to share usage data with companies as long as they can choose what information to share.

·      Consumers explore purchasing and plan alternatives. While carriers continue to be the number one choice for smartphone purchases, through both the carriers in-store and online channels, manufacturers (e.g., OEMs) are gaining in market share. This is particularly true among the coveted younger age groups, 25-34 year olds, who reported buying the highest number of smartphones. We also see changing preferences when it comes to consumers selecting their mobile operator. The importance of data-centric services has accelerated and consumers list the cost of data plans and 4G/LTE availability/quality as their top reasons for choosing a mobile carrier. Similarly, data plan costs are the number-one reason consumers say they would move from one carrier to another.

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·      The youngest generation isn’t always the trendsetter. In a typical technology adoption curve, it is the youngest generation that usually demonstrates the highest levels of interest and use. In past years, our survey has confirmed this trend, with the 18-24 year-old group leading in mobile technology usage. But this year were are seeing some significant shifts with 25-34 year-olds leading the charge—sometimes by a dominant margin. Our survey shows that 25 to 34-year-olds are demonstrating higher levels of mobile device interest and use resulting from their technical knowledge combined with the ability to spend their own income on the services that matter to them the most.

Download our report to read more on the US survey results. Stay tuned for our Global trends report, offering insights and country trend comparisons on a global basis.

Deloitte's 2016 global mobile consumer survey: US edition (download possible)
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Deloitte's 2016 global mobile consumer survey: US edition (download possible)
For six years, Deloitte has been commissioning its Global Mobile Consumer Survey, in which consumers of all ages from across the globe answer questions about their mobile technology usage. The latest survey confirmed that mobile has become indispensable across all demographics and geographies.

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