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I am my smartphone

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Study reveals how smartphones are changing the way we live and the far-reaching implications for business  
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Smartphones are changing the way we live our lives

Smartphones are influencing the we live our everyday lives and interact with other human beings, even our closest friends and family.

In a ground-breaking study Intersperience, the international consumer research specialist, has discovered the incredible extent to which the public are effectively saying: “I am my smartphone” – and the results have far-reaching implications for international brands and public policy makers.

Some 79% of the population now have a mobile phone but almost half, 44%, use a smartphone. Once almost exclusively the preserve of business users, these multi-functional mobile devices are now just as popular with teenagers and housewives thanks to the growth of the “app” download culture and the introduction of more aggressive pricing plans by phone companies.

One of the most striking facts about smartphone users revealed in the Intersperience study, Digital Selves, is the fact they are constantly connected. Some 56% of smartphone users are on their devices all the time and 65% say they would “feel lost” without them.

85% of smartphone users say they would miss them if they could no longer use them where a mere 8% say they are tired of being constantly available because of the greater connectivity their phones offer. In short, these people are willing prisoners of technology.

Although popularised initially as a handy emailing tool for busy executives on the move, smartphones are now mainly used for leisure and entertainment: smartphone users are 15 times less likely to use their phones for simply calling and texting.

It is easy to characterise these devotees as frantically texting teenagers but the attachment runs across age groups. In the Digital Selves study one 35-year-old mother admitted: “I sleep with it under my pillow so that I know where it is in the middle of the night.”

As the smartphone becomes ubiquitous, so the use of other electronic devices begins to fade. Unsurprisingly, the use of landline phones has dropped the sharpest but 27% of smartphone subscribers said they log on to their PC less also.

Laptop usage is down 25% but remains an important device across all age groups nevertheless. They are seen as the practical choice for online tasks, where smartphones are the emotional one. All this leaves the PC looking rather like an endangered species but rather, it could be a case of the PC is dead; long live the computer.

Emerging from Digital Selves is the picture of a population with an increasing attachment to mobile phones, laptops and other mobile devices. The implications of these continuing trends for business are significant.

In one sense they make life more complex: brands will need a presence across all devices to reach an increasingly atomised consumer base – and they may find it harder to predict which routes to market are likely to be most successful with different consumer segments.

The corollary of this, of course, is that brands can have more real-time interaction – and therefore a closer relationship – with consumers than ever before.

Digital Selves demonstrates for the first time how the always-on world is changing the way we live our lives in a very profound way. Those who embrace these changes and harness the power of the smartphone, tablet and laptop will be the success stories of the next decade.

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