5 Smartphone Usage Statistics and the Growing Importance of Mobile Accessibility

December 2, 2019

The jokes and memes that the younger generations are glued to their smartphones appear to evolve from some truth — but research suggests that truth spans all age groups.

Thinking of mobile accessibility as secondary, or skipping it altogether, puts organizations at legal risk and makes it likely that a large percentage of users will have negative or even unusable experiences. Here are five stats to show why.

1. 81% of Americans own a smartphone

Sky-rocketing up from 35% in 2011, 81% of Americans now own a smartphone, according to Pew Research Center's Mobile Fact Sheet. While this fact probably isn't surprising as we get ready to usher in 2020, it is significant — and that figure jumps up to 96% of 18-to 29-year-olds.

The future of the web is mobile.

Further reading: Don't overlook iOS and Android testing

2. 37% of American adults access the web with a smartphone most of the time

This number, according to Pew Research Center's Mobile Technology and Home Broadband 2019 report, is huge because it indicates a clear trend toward mobile-only web access. The statistics go further, clarifying over half (58%) of 18-to 29-year-olds use smartphones as their primary internet device, and that over a quarter (27%) of Americans skip out on broadband internet subscriptions altogether.

3. Almost 75% of internet users will be mobile-only by 2025

According to a report by the World Advertising Research Center (WARC), 72.6% of internet users around the world will only use their smartphones to get online by 2025. If accurate, this means within about five years, 3.7 billion people will be mobile-only (not own a smartphone or use desktop and mobile, but mobile-only).

Organizations simply can't wait until after this shift is completed to act or they will be left behind by their more accessible competitors.

4. 61% of people won't return to an inaccessible mobile site

Smartphone users who have trouble accessing a site are unlikely to return (61% according to one source). There a number of studies and reports on this topic, and the numbers vary based on a bunch of criteria, but all the number share this in common: they are big numbers.

This shouldn't be surprising. Whether a person with a disability can't use a site because of unnecessary accessibility barriers or a person without a disability has trouble using a site because something on it isn't functional or isn't easy to use, they're not likely to come back.

Organizations get one chance at a first impression and consumers in the digital age have enough options to hold onto a negative one.

Further reading:

5. 86% of screen reader users use a screen reader on a mobile device

According to the latest WebAIM Screen Reader User Survey, 86.3% of respondents said they use a screen reader on a mobile device or tablet. This percentage is higher than desktop computer (67.5%) and laptop (83.9%) screen reader usage.

The preference for the convenience of smartphone usage isn't limited or specific to any demographic.

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