How Mobile Reshapes The Way We Communicate

In Mobility by Daniel Newman6 Comments

This article is the second of a 4 part follow up to the earlier published 4 Trends Transforming the Way We Communicate

The time has finally arrived where our use of mobile devices has surpassed our use of our desktops and laptops.

I guess that may have come to a surprise to some people, but if you have had your head up and been paying attention, it is probably not surprising at all. The irony here, is that we all have our head down, staring at our devices so much that we may just have missed this shift altogether.

Bottom line, mobile devices and the trend of mobility is another trend that is greatly altering the way we communicate.

In the past 5 years, really since the release of the first iPhone, mobile has been on a torrent pace to take over our lives.  The aforementioned comment about people staring at their devices; sure that is said somewhat in gest, but if you actually stop and look around it isn’t even the slightest bit surprising to see people ignoring their surroundings to stare at their device.

Maybe these statistics will provide some perspective.

  • 1 Billion smartphones were sold in just the year 2013
  • 99% of smartphone owners use their web browser daily.
  • 91% keep their smartphone within arms reach 24/7/365
  • 75% have their phones with them in the bathroom.
  • Check out 28 More great mobile stats…

On their own, these numbers show the massive impact that mobile has had on our lives, but what does this imply about the way we communicate?

We Do Our Business On Mobiles 

Pun intended, but in serious, we have now reached a point where we open 51% of our email on our mobile, officially putting our mobile opens past our PC opens. This shows not only our dependence on our mobile, but that fact that we are spending more time away from our desks.

We Start And Finish Our Day On Mobile

You think people are reading their email during the workday? Of course they probably are, but mobile has changed our behavior to check our email first thing when we wake up (49%) and more than half of people (54%) check their email again right before going to bed.  Considering we have our phones within arm reach around the clock, this isn’t really all that surprising.

We Get Social On Our Mobile Devices 

According to a study in August of 2013 by IDC and Facebook, the most popular activity on mobile devices today is still email, but right after email comes Facebook. Yep, the worlds largest social network is also one of mobile users favorite things to do on the device with 70% of people polled saying it is their most used application on their smart device.  Furthermore at least 75% of people who own smartphones proclaim to go on social media at least one time per day from their mobile device.

We Read More Content Online 

Beyond email and social media, people are using mobile more than newspapers and magazines combined as their preferred way to consume content. Sure they are reading the news, but they are doing so on mobile devices.

We Make Purchases From Our Mobile Devices

Even with all of the security risks and breaches that have taken place in the past year, people are still crazy about shopping online.  In fact with 3 out of every 5 searches now being done from a mobile device it is leading to more and more online purchasing.  In fact, 9 out of 10 mobile searches lead to a purchase or a visit leading to another big shift in mobile; the impact on local search and consumption.

Mobile Is Changing How We Communicate, Period.

While we may on average spend more than 119 minutes a day on our mobile devices, the trend isn’t only affecting our business, or our social lives, but really it is changing entirely how we communicate with one another.

The trends for mobile usage are across the board showing an increase meaning we will likely spend more time in the next year than we have this year and at the rate we are going this may continue until we literally are connected to our devices 24×7.

In the future I see more integration of mobile and life with the proliferation of Glass and other wearable technologies, because we want to be omnipresent and today our devices limit this.  This may just be what we need as we evolve from the “Internet of Things” to the “Internet of People.”

Perhaps then we can look at each other when speaking and still not feel like we are missing out on what all those people online are thinking, saying and doing?

This article was originally featured on Forbes can be found here. Image Credit: Creative Commons Via Flickr. 

Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. From Big Data to IoT to Cloud Computing, Newman makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology projects, which leads to his ideas regularly being cited in CIO.Com, CIO Review and hundreds of other sites across the world. A 5x Best Selling Author including his most recent “Building Dragons: Digital Transformation in the Experience Economy,” Daniel is also a Forbes, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post Contributor. MBA and Graduate Adjunct Professor, Daniel Newman is a Chicago Native and his speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.


  1. Do you have sources for some of your stats Daniel? 

    And yes for communication mobile has taken over our lives….starting way back 20 years ago when cell phones became the main way we communicate. But what you presented I do not see in real life. So maybe this is very localized? I work nights at a restaurant. Less than 1% of customers have their phones out and in use. Everyone actually sits and drinks and eats and talks.

    I see way too many generalizations from bad marketing surveys. Yes we use mobile a lot but it isn’t 24/7 constant or even close to it. It is a very important platform and channel for brands but within a larger ecosystem.

  2. Interestingly enough I still only purchase from my laptop where I feel there is better security.

    My colleagues and I may keep our phones on the table, but we do not look at them during our conversation. We take a break, grab another cup of coffee or water, check messages and focus back on one another. So it doe snot have to take over our lives, that is a choice.

    1. Author

      It absolutely does not have to take over our lives. I could not agree more. I would say however, it is changing our lives. For better, for worse, but for sure 🙂

  3. Howie Goldfarb Yes Howie – Enzaga study with sources such as econsultancy, nielsen and others. 

    As for the restaurant experience. I can’t go anywhere and not see half of the people looking, staring, sharing on their phones. I’m surprised you are seeing such low usage.

    Thanks as always for your intelligent banter.

  4. Since I use these modern technologies, I cannot sit here and tell everyone they are all bad. These communication technologies add a lot of good and effective ways to communicate. But I would encourage you to think about working more at interpersonal, face-to-face and mannered telephone communication. Intimate relationships don’t work via texting, email, and facebook. Don’t replace intimate relationships with technological relationships. Your relationships will be healthier and add to your quality of life.

  5. Technology advancement is rapidly changing in today’s generation. It ruled our lives since then and we become self-reliant and dependent to it. We all know that mobile device is a form of technology, and it is one of our basic need in life, nowadays. We cannot live without it and we can’t deny the fact that we tend to abuse the use of it. It totally changed our lives and now it’s getting worst day by day. The more advanced it is, the more people begin
    to depend on it and other forms of technology for everyday
    existence.What we only know is the positive side of it, and we forgot of the things that we used to do way back then, when everything was just normal and technology was not our priority. Yes, mobile devices really do helped us in so many ways but let us always remember that everything in this world is just temporary.

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