This figure is down 2.6% since December 2015, and has been dropping by an average of 3.7% year-over-year since 2010.
Most households – 50.8% – now only use cell phones, though the numbers do vary somewhat by study.
GfK MRI reported in January that 52% of American households are cell-only in their Survey of the American Consumer. Either way, it’s clear that more and more Americans are abandoning landline phones.
Who’s still using landline phones in 2017?
Income and location have as much to do with landline phone ownership as age.
As you might imagine, older demographics are more likely to still use a landline phone.
A particularly telling finding by the NHIS is 50.5% of all adults surveyed (male and female, husbands and wives, etc.) live in “wireless only homes.” Yet 60.7% of children (those under 18 years old) live in “wireless only homes.”
Another interesting finding is that 61.7% of adults 18-24 live in wireless only homes, while 72.7% of adults 25-29 and 71.0% of adults 30-34 live in wireless only homes.
Age is certainly a contributing factor in landline phone ownership, but income and geographic location seem to play an equal role.
According to the NHIS:
“Adults living in poverty (66.3%) and near poverty (59.0% were more likely than higher income adults (48.5%) to be living in households with only wireless telephones [cell phones].”
This lines up with research by Pew Research Center, which shows that lower income families are more likely to rely on their smartphones as their only source of internet and telecommunications.
These groups are less likely to purchase bundled services, such as internet, satellite TV, and phone.
And according to GfK’s report, only 39% of households in Northeast U.S. are wireless only, while 53% of households in the Midwest and 57% of households in the South are wireless only.
GfK makes a similar connection as Pew. They say households in the Northeast have higher rates of bundled services, and so are more likely to still use landline phones.
What about businesses?
It’s difficult to find definitive numbers on business landline use.
We know it’s common for established small businesses to stick with their existing landline services. The audio quality is better, they can bundle the service, and they’ve already paid for installation (often the most expensive part of landline services).
We also know it’s common for new(er) businesses to choose voice over internet protocol (VOIP) services instead of landlines. These are more cost-efficient and easier to manage.
And still, it’s common for businesses to switch from landline to VOIP services.
All of these cases are common, but, unfortunately, we have no recent numbers on American usage. We do know, worldwide, VOIP services are expected to hit 1 billion users by the end of this year, creating a global market value of approximately $98.8 billion.
What should you do with this information?
What good is research if you can’t apply it to anything?
These numbers should help inform your business decisions and shape your view of our technology landscape. People today prefer mobility and saving money, so they choose less expensive services that can be used anywhere.
In general, our culture is changing. Home landlines are called by fundraisers more than by friends and families. And so many people work in multiple spaces that a landline phone can be impractical.
Yet a lot of people still use a landline phone in 2017! Over 45% of American households have a landline phone, even though that number is trending down.
This signals a shift in our communications, though perhaps not as large of one as some major media players would have you believe. We’re changing, but we haven’t entirely migrated yet.
We’re spending more time involved in digital media overall, but less of that time on desktop and laptop computers. Mobile now accounts for about 65% of total digital media consumption.
As you might imagine, college-age adults (18-24) spend significantly more time on mobile phones than older demographics.
eMarketer also released a study in 2016 that gives a significantly different answer. Their mobile research report shows total time spent by mobile users as 4 hours, 5 minutes per day.
Their study does also include tablet users, and only includes active mobile device users, both of which could account for the more-than-hour per day difference.
The study leaves room for potential overlap between users who might multi-task between a smartphone and tablet, too. Even though tablet usage accounts for roughly 15% of total mobile time, tablet users could still skew the numbers.
Another study, conducted by Flurry, shows U.S. consumers actually spend over 5 hours a day on mobile devices! About 86% of that time was taken up by smartphones, meaning we spend about 4 hours, 15 minutes on our mobile phones every day.
Flurry’s study aligns more closely with eMarketer’s study, leaving comScore’s research out on the edge.
Flurry and eMarketer’s reports also coincide more closely with past research, which has shown we spend about 4 hours, 40 minutes on our mobile phones every day.
It’s difficult to pin down an exact figure for how much time people spend on their mobile phones in 2017, but the simple answer is “over 4 hours a day.”
What are we doing on our phones?
We use our mobile phones for entertainment, to connect with friends and colleagues, to stay informed, to shop, and for just about everything else!
At least 81% of American adults now own a smartphone, and these devices have become an integral part of both our work and personal lives.
Here’s what that looks like in hours and minutes.
According to MediaKix, we spend an average of 1 hour, 56 minutes on the top 5 social media platforms alone. The top 5 being (by usage):
And according to comScore’s 2017 Future in Focus report, 66% of that time takes place on smartphones. (Only 21% of social media time takes place on a desktop.)
Though this doesn’t include sites like Pinterest, LinkedIn, and other heavy hitters, it means we spend about 1 hour, 16 minutes a day engaging with the top 5 social media platforms on our phones.
It’s amazing how the purpose of mobile phones has changed through the years. They started as another way to communicate, and now they’re tools to experience the whole world from your fingers!
As social media, entertainment, search, and shopping take up larger portions of our time, how much time are we spending on actual communication?
Unfortunately, what research is available (and accessible) is a bit dated, and no study agrees with the next!
eMarketer’s Mobile Usage report (pulled Nov. 2015) offers a much simpler breakdown in time, though it’s even more different than the first two!
According to eMarketer, 22% of mobile phone time is taken up by texting, 22% by phone calls, and 10% by email.
This would mean we spend, on average, about 55 minutes a day texting, 55 minutes a day on phone calls, and 25 minutes a day on mobile email.
Maybe we do actually use our phones for communication!
eMarketer’s report is most consistent with past research. Behaviors can and do change, but there might be a better reason for all these differences.
Today’s mobile landscape is dominated by multipurpose apps. You might use WhatsApp – or any number of similar options – to text or to call. You might use Snapchat to message, send pictures, and scroll through a feed.
A lot of our communication today takes place within “social media apps.” And because so many of these apps have so many functions, it’s hard to say how much time we spend on any one thing, like texting.
Roughly 90% of our mobile time is spent using apps.
Today’s digital landscape is very much app-focused. In fact, according to comScore’s Mobile Hierarchy Report (Jan. 2017), apps make up 87% of total mobile minutes.
Although, Flurry Analytics reported in December 2016, that apps take up 92% of total mobile time, while browsers account for the other 8%.
It might be difficult to nail down an exact figure, but roughly 90% of our mobile time is spent using apps.
According to comScore, American adult smartphone users spend an average of 73.8 hours a month on apps, which comes to a little under 2 hours, 30 minutes a day.
However, if we spend over 4 hours a day on our phones (like what we came to above), and app usage takes up 90% of that, then we actually spend about 3 hours, 40 minutes a day on apps.
As you might imagine, younger adults spend more time on apps than older adults. That figure decreases steadily for older demographics, ending with those 65+ y.o., who spend 42.1 hours a month on apps, or about 1 hour, 25 minutes a day.
What might be most surprising is how much time seniors are spending on apps! Younger adults are “digital natives,” who grew up with this technology, but that certainly hasn’t stopped it from spreading.
What does this mean for you and me?
Things have changed, they will continue to change, and it’s in everyone’s best interest to adapt accordingly.
Mobile phones have solidified themselves in everyday American culture. They’ve also changed our daily behaviors.
Since Apple sparked a smartphone revolution in 2017, mobile devices have gone from cool and trendy to staples of how we interact with the world. And our behaviors have mostly moved from compulsion to practical application.
The #1 alarm clock is a phone. Most people check email and social media on their phones, and we all use them to communicate with friends, family, and colleagues.
The amount of time people spend on their mobile phones is less representative of addictive behavior today, and more representative of a massive cultural shift.
One interpretation of this data is that our lives are merely more technologically integrated. And, as with any change, this brings its own set of challenges.
How will we handle them? Only time will tell!
What does this mean for businesses?
The time people spend on their mobile phones means about the same for businesses as it does for everyone else. Things have changed, they will continue to change, and it’s in everyone’s best interest to adapt accordingly.
More people prefer social media and mobile messaging over calls and emails. It’s the duty of your business to communicate through social media and mobile messaging as well, because you need to meet consumers where they already spend their time.
People spend more time searching for answers via mobile phones than on desktops. It’s the duty of your business to provide answers to these searches, and to tailor your website so that it provides a fast, enjoyable experience for mobile users.
Times have changed, and the businesses who change with it are the ones who will succeed.
A Final Word
How much time do people spend on their mobile phones in 2017? Quite a bit.
Over 4 hours a day means we spend over 1/6 of our days on our phones! But it doesn’t mean we’re bad people.
Mobile phones have become very practical, highly functional devices, and our usage reflects their application.
People have been adapting to advancements in mobile technology en masse, and businesses who follow suit will be able to thrive in this mobile-first era.
Mobile everything has been one of the fastest growing trends this decade. People are on their phones for a slough of reasons at all hours of the day and night. We’ve got elaborations on mobile trends and usage all over our site, and below are all the texting statistics you could ever want! Enjoy.
If you just want to know the number of texts people send every day, scroll down. Your numbers are highlighted in red. There’s charts, too! If you want details and explanations, keep reading.
Everyone wants to know how many texts are sent and received every day, and who’s doing all this messaging. The trouble is that this specific research is only conducted every several years. Trends suggest the numbers keep rising, but that’s difficult to confirm in between reports.
How many texts do people send every day? It’s not the easiest question to answer, but here’s everything we know.
Note that app-to-app messaging, such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, is not included in this. (Those two combine for over 60 billion messages every day, in case you were curious.)
Global vs. U.S.
In June of 2014, 561 billion text messages were sent worldwide. That’s the most recent number we’ve got. Obviously that’s a rounded figure, but it brings us to roughly 18.7 billion texts sent every day around the world. (Tweet this!)
By the end of 2011, the United States was sending out 6 billion texts every day, or about 180 billion a month. At that same time – end of year 2011 – there were about 395 billion monthly texts being sent worldwide.
In other words, the U.S. was responsible for about 45% of the world’s texts. Not bad for 4% of the world’s population.
Between the end of 2011 and June 2014, global text usage grew from ~395 billion to 561 billion messages per month. That’s a growth of approximately 140%.
If – strong if – U.S. text usage grew by that same figure, then Americans sent 255 billion texts in June of 2014.
With very rough figures, we’ll extrapolate that the most recent data we have shows 8.5 billion texts sent every day in these here United States of America.
We do know that 81% of the American population are texters – they text at least on a monthly basis. For round figures, the U.S. has a population of 320 million. 81% of our population equals roughly 259 million people who text.
So. If 259 million people are sending out 8.5 billion texts a day, what does that account to? That’s roughly 32-33 messages per day, per person.
From here, we can keep breaking down the numbers by who owns what device and how old they are, but what’s the point? People under 18 aren’t included in a lot of the data, and those over 65 years old hardly do any texting. But we’ll get to that.
This is arguably the best data available, but we can’t say with complete assurance that it’s 100% accurate for today. Take it with a grain of salt.
By Age Group
The best research we have here is from Pew Research Center in 2011. They conducted another very thorough study towards the end of 2014 (released in April, 2015), but for some reason the new one didn’t include the number of text messages sent.
They did, however, show that text/SMS is the single most used feature on a smartphone, with 97% of all smartphone users having texted within the last week.
Coming in second was audio/video calls with a 92% usage rate, and the internet with an 89% usage rate. Think about that.
On mobile devices (which take up the majority of web traffic), people text more than they use the internet. That’s incredible.
Thankfully, in 2013, Experian Marketing Services released this report, breaking down text usage by demographic. Again, it’s been a few years since their report, which might mean the numbers are dated, but it’s the best public information we’ve got.
Per their report, those between 18-24 years old sent and received an average of 3,853 texts messages per month. In a 30-day month, that’s just over 128 messages per day.
As of 2013, American adults between 18-24 sent and received an average of just over 128 text messages per day.
The next group is adults 25-34 years old, which, admittedly, is a large age group to include. There’s 3 completely different life stages in this, which leads us to believe that the numbers would be skewed between those 25-29 and those 30-34. But I digress.
People in this age range averaged 2,240 sent and received texts per month. Based on a 30-day month, that’s just under 75 messages per day.
As of 2013, American adults between 25-34 sent and received an average of just under 75 text messages per day.
Those 35-44 years old sent and received an average of 1,557 text messages per month, which comes out to 52 text messages per day.
Adults 45-54 years old sent and received 998 text messages per month, or about 33 messages a day.
The 55+ group averaged 491 messages per month, translating into 16 text messages per day.
Let’s group some of these together for more a “comprehensive” and easy to remember figure (or just a fun fact to toss around). If we generalize these age groups American adults under 45 years old send and receive an average of 2,550 messages a month, or about 85 text messages per day. (Tweet this!)
Depending on which study you look at over the last few years, the average person spends roughly 8 – 10 hours engaged in media everyday. Impressive, huh? But is it really all that surprising? “Media” refers to TV, Netflix, radio, movies, podcasts, YouTube, and just about any app on your phone. When you realize how broad of a category “media” is, spending 10 hours a day on it really isn’t all that much. Think about it.
When you wake up in the morning, you check your notifications, emails, etc. You might read a book. Perhaps you turn on the TV for a morning show. You probably read a few articles or watch a few videos you see shared on Facebook, Medium, LinkedIn, Twitter, or whatever your go-to source is. You listen to radio or podcasts on your way to work (somebody’s got to support Mike & Mike). You might even stream some of this stuff while you’re at the office!
At some point you’ll get distracted on Facebook or LinkedIn. Heck, your job might be to be engaged in media all day! You listen to the radio or something on the way home from work. Maybe you watch an hour or two of some show, and recoup by scrolling through your mobile device. When you think about it, 10 hours a day seems a bit low.
Media is a staple of how we get through our days, stay informed, find entertainment, and keep up with contacts. Media is not evil, we’re not all being brainwashed. It’s simply a (rather large) facet of life, culture, and progress.
Someone is inevitably going to look at this – at the fact that we spend up to 10 hours a day (maybe more) invested in media – as outrageous, deplorable, even as a sure sign that the end is near! Think whatever you want, that’s not the case. Think about all the gaps that would be created in your day and in your life if you took out media. You could get by and be perfectly content, I’m sure. But what you would miss out on – news, relationships, opportunities, fulfillment, progress, self-actualization – would far outweigh any benefit you would gain from disconnecting.
Technology is the driving force behind our media consumption. Technology progressively makes the things we want to do easier to do. At the heart of that innovation is the desire to build, to grow, to improve, and to develop. Sure, anything can be used to harmful effects. But 10 hours a day of media is not killing anybody. When used properly, media enables us to better ourselves and that which surrounds us. Don’t look at this research in shock at what we do. Look at it as part of how we grow in ourselves, in business, and with others.
People are texting for business all the time! They text to schedule a meeting, to check in with someone, to send a quick reminder, to wish a client a happy birthday, to talk business ideas, even to shore up and grow new business.
We text. It's just what we do. Texting is a natural extension of our own voice, and integrates seamlessly with our day-to-day lives. It's really interesting to look around and see how many people are using their mobile devices, what exactly they're using them for, and how they're communicating with others through them. While individuals embrace these new technologies and use them to benefit their own day-to-day lives, it's a rare occurrence when a business as an entire unit takes advantage of these incredible technologies.
If you're a gym, it's really easy and makes a lot of sense to incorporate one or several fitness apps into what you and your personal trainers do everyday. It completes the customer experience, and probably makes operations more efficient.
If you're an accounting firm, something like Drop Box makes perfect sense, because you and your clients can quickly and easily share important documents with each other, securely, from anywhere.
If you're a school, ebooks are a great tool because there's so many kids who don't have access to (or funds to purchase) books, and ebooks can help remedy that situation.
What does your business use technology for? What technologies do you wish you were using?
Technology is a beautiful thing! Sure, it comes with additional responsibilities, but the benefits when used appropriately are astronomical!
Texting is a technology that we all use. It's a staple of how we communicate. Individuals text for countless reasons every single day. And over 80% of professionals include texting for business in their tool belts to boost their careers. So why is it that only a handful of businesses have started having text conversations as a business unit?
Most businesses are constantly trying to catch up with where they need to be. That's just the way it is. Leaders see a few people do things one way, and eventually they start to do the same with their respective brands.
Texting - for full conversations, not just marketing - hasn't caught up with the mainstream of business communication, but the innovative leaders out there have begun to integrate texting into their professional, business communication as an organizational unit - complete with a clickable text number on their website.
They're using these business text numbers to have full conversations about anything from scheduling appointments to creating leads to closing sales to general communications to friendly reminders - really for every reason you as an individual might text someone. But they're doing it as a unit. They're doing it in a way that's manageable as a whole organization, in a way where they can have five or ten people (or everyone) from the same business texting for that business, and be able to keep tabs on who said what to whom and when.
We use mobile technologies every single day for hundreds of reasons, from leisure to education to communication. Most people text everyday to boost their business. And several businesses as entire units have started to incorporate texting for full conversations into their strategies - with impressive results, I might add. When will you make the jump?
The stat in this picture is inexcusable, primarily because it's completely avoidable. Every phone call is a chance to make a sale, to grab a referral, to make an upsale, and to create an advocate for your organization.
Between how many calls go unanswered, how many are placed on hold (86%), how many callers hang up after being placed on hold (32% immediately; 90% within 5 minutes), and how much your competitors gain from all this, you are losing about a quarter of your business potential - simply because you can't handle the volume of calls you get everyday.
There's several easy solutions to this:
Hire More People
If you can't answer all the calls that come in (and do so in a timely manner), it's probably not going to hurt you to hire another person (or several) to handle those calls. Hiring another employee means higher overhead costs for your business. But if you brought in 25% more revenue than what you're currently bringing in, would that cover your extra expenditure? I can't answer that question for everyone, because it varies so much between each business, but my guess would be that it would. Plus, if you're getting someone's business, it means your competitors aren't.
Make Them Email You
Can't handle enough calls? Have people email you! That's pretty simple, right? After all, you already have several, if not dozens or hundreds, of email addresses set up for your organization. But if you do choose to encourage more people to email you instead of call, you have to make sure you can answer every single one of those emails quickly. Why do people ever choose to call anyone? Because they want something, and they want it right then. If you take the average 6+ hours to respond to someone's email, that's too long. It won't decrease your call volume. It might even raise it. Also, only 20% of emails are ever read, so you' really need to make sure your staff is on point with responding to every single email appropriately.
Live chat isn't great for many things because there's zero mobility available with this option. But it's great as a supplement or replacement to phone calls because of its immediacy. People call your organization because they want something right at that moment, and email (typically the only other option) takes way too long. If you give people another instant gratification offer, like live chat, you'll be able to reduce the number of calls you get, handle more conversations simultaneously, and bring in more business that you would have otherwise lost from not being able to answer a phone call.
Let Them Text You
This is a great way to stand out. It provides everything your average consumer needs (that's why it's the most used form of communication in the world). People call because they want something instant. Well, SMS or text messaging is simply instant messaging on-the-go. Anyone with a cell phone can text you. People don't want to call you, they just want something right then. If you give them the opportunity to text you, they will. They know email takes too long, they don't want to wait on hold, and if they're stuck on live chat it means they can't go anywhere else. Plus, an employee can easily handle multiple text conversations simultaneously, which you can't do on a phone call. And someone can handle about 10X as many conversations in the same amount of time simply because texting is so much quicker.
People often do not want to have to call you. Mostly, they do this because it's easier than waiting hours or days for you to email them back. Consumers want something immediately. By not being able to handle all the calls you get, you're inevitably losing business opportunities. And since you're losing opportunities, that means your competitors are gaining opportunities. To remedy this, and earn a significantly larger amount of revenue, you either need to hire more personnel to handle the abundance of communications, or provide alternation options for those trying to contact you, such as live chat or text messaging.
Today's workforce is composed primarily of Millennials (adults between 20 and 40 years old, roughly). These are the ones for whom texting is a natural form of communication, and these are the same people that think texting would be a great option for both them and their clientele, if only they could do it from something other than their personal cell.
Truthfully, if you haven't already started texting, and you're not actively looking for a way to professionally text with consumers/customers/clients/etc., you're behind the times.
People would rather text you than have to call someone else, and if your direct competitors aren't already texting professionally, it's something that could give you a serious edge over them.
Adding texting as a third line of communication (to phone calls and emails) will open up a whole new realm for positive customer experiences, without creating more hassle around the office. You'll be able to generate more leads, build better relationships with your clientele, and generally streamline your operations.
Is everybody going to immediately stop doing everything else to start texting you? No. But the majority of people would rather text you than call somebody else for a simple question or need. And most people don't want to fill out another contact form, especially if they're on a mobile device (it's more difficult than it's worth).
In fact, since texting is so much simpler than calling or emailing (and removes the small talk), you'll actually be able to handle more communications in less time.
Most people want to text professionally because they understand the importance of being able to do things on your own time, of being virtually guaranteed to reach people every time, of saving time and money spent talking on the phone, of speeding up the sales cycle, and two dozen other advantages of texting as a business.
The best part? You can start doing this right now.
You talk with your friends and family regularly. You go out together, help each other move, and even buy gifts for each other. You’re willing to do a lot for these people, because you’re close.
So how can you create a similar relationship with your customers? Because that’s the goal.
Obviously you can’t be best friends with every single one of your customers, but you can build genuine relationships with them. You can be more helpful and offer better experiences than your competition.
And that’s where the money comes from.
“Nurtured leads” – potential customers you or your brand have built relationships with – will spend 47% more with your brand, on average, than leads you haven’t built relationships with.
What a powerful phenomenon!
Here’s an example of lead nurturing that you’ve probably experienced.
You like using Amazon because it’s quick, and because you don’t have to leave your seat to get what you want.
You could pick up the exact same item from Walmart or Barnes&Noble or Lowe’s and not have to wait (or pay) for shipping. In some cases, you might even save money by not using Amazon!
But if you’re like most people, you go back to Amazon again and again. Why?
Because they’re constantly nurturing you.
Every time you click on an item, you’ll notice that Amazon recommends other, similar items. They see you’ve bought one thing, and refer another item (or several) they think you’ll also enjoy.
After purchasing, you get emails and follow-ups recommending other products to try. Amazon stays with you, and slowly builds a stronger and stronger relationship with you.
Because of this nurturing, you spend a lot more on Amazon goods, and a lot less at other places.
Most businesses, particularly small businesses, rely on direct communication to build relationships with customers. They don’t have the scale (or the budget) for these automated, machine learning recommendations.
But they still try to build some relationships. Maybe it’s through the sales team, or through local networking events, or even through email newsletters.
But is there a best way to build customer relationships? Their might be. There’s at least something you could add to your communications that will help.
Think about how you communicate with your friends and family. What could also apply to your customers?
You can’t always meet face-to-face with customers, though that’s certainly valuable. You might interact with them on social media. But one way to build these relationships and nurture your leads is to text with them.
You text with your friends and family all the time, don’t you? So why not text with your customers, too?