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Smartphones are taking over

How much do we love our smartphones? So much, according to a new study from Ericsson ConsumerLab (PDF), that over one-third of U.S. Android/iPhone users reach for their device before they get out of bed in the morning.

For many people, their smartphone is their alarm clock. And if they are turning off their alarm, they also have a quick connection to the Internet in their hands.

The most common activity is – you guessed it – checking Facebook. The 18-month study found that Facebook and Twitter activity accounts for approximately half of smartphone usage at any given time of day.

Prior to the introduction of smartphones, consumers tended to use the Internet in “chunks” – they would confine their Internet activities to when they had an opportunity to sit in front of a computer. Now, according to the report, people are using the Internet constantly.

Usage is heaviest in the early and late evenings, when over 60 percent of users are active. And 40 percent use their smartphones before going to bed.

What’s driving this devotion to smartphones and other connected mobile devices? Apps. The study's report says that “app culture” is growing in importance and turning into a new way of living. “Consumers are using apps to form habits that integrate Internet use into most basic everyday activities, becoming dependent on cloud services without even noticing.”

Ultimately, apps may be more important than the devices that they are on, notes the report. More and more apps that focus on everyday activities and tasks are being incorporated into people’s daily routines. Now, when we need information – whether it’s the local weather forecast, medical advice, or product price comparisons – we reach for our smartphones.

In February, Zokem Research reported that app usage had pulled almost even with text messaging in popularity among smartphone users, consuming 667 minutes per month compared to 671 minutes for texting.

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