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Mobile Metrics & Landscape Update

by Barry Blitch, PBS Interactive Intern

What’s the primary function of mobile devices? If you think it’s communication from person-to-person, well, you’re partly right. In fact, over two-thirds of our time spent on mobile phones is used for non-communication activities (Atlantic). This is one of the surprising facts we learned when updating the Mobile Metrics & Landscape deck on the PBS Interactive Station Guide. Compiled from the latest research by leading outlets including comScore and Pew, this resource provides an overview of mobile platforms, users, and usage in the mobile landscape.

The past year saw many milestones in mobile due largely to the increased availability of WiFi, 3G/4G service, and aggressive device promotions. We reached a major turning point in which more Americans use smartphones (46%) than basic feature phones (41%, Pew). Not to be overshadowed, 19% of Americans own a tablet, and these devices are spreading exponentially. It took seven years for the U.S. to reach 40 million smartphones in use, but less than two years to reach the same number of tablets (comScore). Android and Apple are the two major players in competition, as the former leads in overall platform and the latter leads with the iPhone 4 as top smartphone (comScore).

Why is this particularly important for stations? Because the latest mobile devices aren’t your mother’s cell phone and laptop. Video viewing via mobile phone has increased 35.7% over last year (Nielsen). Over half of tablet users watch video or TV content on their devices (Multichannel News). They get to this content via apps and mobile websites. With the average user spending 94 minutes/day using apps and 72 minutes/day (Mashable) with mobile and desktop web, it’s difficult to ignore. Mobile platforms are rapidly becoming the norm—a major touchpoint through which we experience daily life. The good news for stations is that mobile users are supplementing this time with their regular media diet, becoming omnivores of content across multiple screens.

What’s your experience with Mobile content? Share with us the lingering questions and helpful tips in the world of Mobile at your station.

While you’re getting up to date with the new Mobile Metrics & Landscape deck in the PBS Interactive Station Guide, make sure to check out our other Mobile resources:

•    Mobile Key Trends and Executive Summary - A cross-department resource for understanding the opportunities and challenges of mobile, including best practices for positioning your station accordingly. 
•    Behind the Touchscreen: Tales of Station Mobile - A collection of stories, experiments and lessons learned from the Mobile Working Group so you can see how other stations are approaching mobile. 
•    Defining Your Station’s Mobile Presence White Paper - Your guide to building a mobile strategy and defining your mobile presence. Intended to be shared and workshopped by stakeholders at your station.

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