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How People use Smartphones

By Nigel Hill, Founder of TLF Research and Editor of Customer Insight Magazine

According to Nielsen data, only 5.4% of mobile phone time is taken up by the phone's "dialler" function, meaning traditional talking. We're spending 2.3% of the time with music and video apps, 11% with the browser and more than half with "other" apps. And text messaging consumes 13.4%. The iPhone has shaken up entire industries, from navigation to gaming, and replaced household items such as torches and alarm clocks for many of us. Their constant companionship has also made our smartphones handy shopping tools -- to the chagrin of plenty of bricks-and-mortar retailers. According to Nielsen, 29% of owners use their smartphones for shopping activities, including comparing prices and purchasing.

Fewer devices
Thanks to the almost limitless functionality of smartphone apps, people now need fewer gadgets. In a recent survey conducted by Gazelle.com (a company that buys your old iPhone), nearly 70% of survey respondents have said goodbye to their iPod or mp3 player, 55% have ditched their camera, and over 40% no longer use their GPS unit since buying an iPhone.

Phones for babies?
In June, Asda conducted a survey of 1,662 mums and found that smartphones are increasingly becoming the primary way to entertain young children. The research revealed that 27% of mums use their phone regularly to entertain their off-spring, ahead of a bottle or a drink (25%), soft toys (21%) or a dummy (9%). 40% of mums let their children play with their smartphone for an average of 10 minutes or less a day, but 10% admit to allowing them to regularly play for one to two hours at a time. Mums in Scotland are most likely to entertain their children with a phone (40% of them do it), followed by Wales (32%), the Midlands (32%) and Northern Ireland (30%).

Parents most often use smartphones to keep their children quiet when they wake up early in the morning, or when at a restaurant, in the car or waiting for an appointment. Most have a range of apps on their phones for their children to play with from puzzles and games to educational programmes.

Popular 'electronic pacifier' apps include: 

  • Wheels on the Bus - Winner of multiple awards, this animated and interactive music story book allows children to do things such as spin the wheels and swish the wipers of the bus alongside the happy tunes.  
  • Classic Simon - An updated version of retro classic Simon Says, the app features four colour modes, along with more advanced challenges for older children. It has already racked up 3.5m downloads with an average rating of 3.5 stars. 
  • iStory Books - Aimed at kids aged two to eight, this app offers various free books complete with text, audio and pictures. New books are added to the app each week. 

Not improving our manners
However, smartphones are not so good for our manners, with more than 25% reporting that they "almost always" use their iPhone while in a social setting such as during a meal or while at a party. A further 58% say they use their iPhone in a social setting either "usually" or "occasionally," while only 17% say they "rarely" or "never" use it in a social gathering.

Smartphone or sex?
Which would you rather give up for a weekend - sex or your iPhone? 15 per cent of respondents to the Gazelle.com survey said they would choose a romance-free weekend rather than go without their beloved device. But why not have both? Nearly 4 per cent of respondents to the Gazelle survey reported having used their iPhones whilst having sex!!!

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