We see every day that Americans are spending more and more time with their smartphones, but what are people doing with this time? The 'phone' function of a smartphone has become secondary to all that internet connectivity provides. New research shows that reading news and shopping are continuing their digital shift and occurring on mobile devices more than ever.

A new study from eMarketer reveals that the majority of Americans get news on their smartphones, with over 70% of those age 25-44 doing so. The trend continues to tablets, where 67% read news on their devices. The 65+ age group is unique, with only 35% reading their news on smartphones but 59% reading on their tablets- perhaps due to a preference for larger font sizes.

As expected, this trend is having an impact on print news subscriptions. Overall, the percentage of print subscribers fell only 2.2% between Q1 2012 and Q1 2013. The drop becomes more significant when looking at those who were likely to read on their mobile devices: for the 45-54 age group, 34.4% had a subscription in 2012 compared to 28.0% in 2013.

eMarketer concluded: "Overall, the findings from the Donald J. Reynolds Journalism Institute showed that newspaper subscribers were less likely than consumers in general to read news on their mobile devices, but still more than half (52.1%) did so in Q1 2013. And that was nearly 15 percentage points higher than the number of print subscribers who read news on mobile a year earlier."


News isn't the only category thriving on mobile. According to a new study reviewed by MediaPost, the time spent visiting retail websites on tablets and smartphones has eclipsed that of time spent shopping on desktop computers. As of February 2013, research from comScore found that 51% of time on retail websites took place on mobile (37% smartphone; 14% tablet) compared to 49% on PCs. Most notable is that the desktop share was 84% only 3 years ago in 2010.

Who are these shoppers on mobile devices? Almost everyone! MediaPost found: "More than half the U.S. audience is men (52%) and 48% women, with most in the 18 to 44 age range. Nearly half (48%) have an Android smartphone, and 45% own an iPhone. Tablet owners tend to skew more affluent, with more than half with household incomes higher than $75,000, and 47% access retail content."

Mobile shopping isn't exclusive to the mobile device. Many shoppers start shopping on one device, such as their PC, and then later continue that search on another, such as their smartphone. Mobile is though of as an on-the-go platform, but much of mobile shopping takes place in the home or at the retail store itself. Most smartphone users have used their phones in correlation with a physical location, by comparing prices (55%), making an online purchase (52%), researching product features (57%), or scanning a barcode (58%).

By now, advertisers know mobile is a key channel to reach consumers. While many Americans use their phones for reading the news and shopping, it's important to recognize that this behavior is not only happening but is now the majority, mainstream, and impossible to ignore.