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Survey: Half Of All US Adults Have Mobile Internet Connection

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A recent survey found that news is being consumed by a quickly expanding mobile customer base. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

A recent survey found that news is being consumed by a quickly expanding mobile customer base. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

SEATTLE (CBS SEATTLE) – Half of all U.S. adults have a mobile connection to the web via smartphone or tablet.

Nearly a quarter of U.S. adults, 22 percent, now own a tablet device-double the number from a year earlier. Another 3 percent of adults regularly use a tablet owned by someone else in their home. And nearly a quarter of those who don’t have a tablet, 23 percent, plan to get one in the next six months. Even more U.S. adults (44 percent) have smartphones, according to the survey, up from 35 percent in May 2011.

This has major implications for how news will be consumed and paid for, according to the detailed new survey of news use on mobile devices by Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) in collaboration with The Economist Group.

News remains an important part of what people do on their mobile devices-64 percent of tablet owners and 62 percent of smartphone owners say they use the devices for news at least weekly, tying news statistically with other popular activities such email and playing games on tablets and behind only email on smartphones (not including talking on the phone). This means fully a third of all U.S. adults now get news on a mobile device at least once a week.

Mobile users are also using the devices for long-term news consumption.

Mobile users, moreover, are not just checking headlines on their devices, although nearly all use the devices for the latest new updates. Many also are reading longer news stories – 73 percent of adults who consume news on their tablet read in-depth articles at least sometimes, including 19 percent who do so daily. Fully 61 percent of smartphone news consumers at least sometimes read longer stories, 11 percent regularly.

One of the most pressing issues for the industry, the survey shows continued resistance to paying for content on mobile devices. More mobile news users have print-only subscriptions than have digital ones. Just 24 percent of them are considering exchanging their print subscription for a digital one, although these tend to be younger subscribers, which suggests their numbers will grow.

Taken together, the data reveal that, even with a broadening population owning mobile devices that offer a range of activities, owners are still drawn heavily to news.

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