Pew: 60% of Americans access the wireless Web

Ronny Kerr · July 7, 2010 · Short URL:

For the first time ever, more than half of American adults own a laptop, says new Pew report

Six in ten (59%) American adults access the Web wirelessly via a laptop or cell phone, up from 51% of Americans just a year ago, according to a new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Almost half (47%) of all adults go online with a laptop connected to either a Wi-Fi connection or wireless broadband card, up from 39% a year ago, and exactly 40% of adults browse the Web, email, or instant message from a cell phone, up from 32% a year ago.

In fact, Pew has found that nearly every demographic group--gender, age, race, education, or income--is accessing the Web wirelessly in greater numbers than had been the case just last year.

Pew wireless Web data

For example, 7% more males and 7% more females are going online wirelessly. Other demographic groups--whites, blacks, high school graduates, college graduates, households with annual incomes of around $30,000, households with annual incomes of around $75,000--all experienced nearly the same boosts in usage.

The most striking growth spurts come from two particular demographics. The first, 18-29 year olds, see 11% more in their bracket accessing the wireless Web, for a grand total of 84% of people in this group. Noteworthy enough, that's the highest percentage on the list. In comparison, only 69% of 30-49 year olds (up 8%), 49% of 50-64 year olds (up 5%), and 20% of 65+ year olds (up 3%) access the Web wirelessly. This one can be explained easily enough: the people who grew up with the Internet are getting older.

Another big growth stat isn't so easily explainable. 46% of people from households of annual income of less than $30,000 now go online wirelessly, up a large 11% from the year before. Weirdly enough, the next bracket--households with annual incomes of $30,000-$49,999--only experienced 2% growth, from 53% to 55%.

Perhaps these numbers can be explained by the dropping prices of laptop computers as well as mobile devices with Web capabilities. Pew says, for the first time since it has carried out these studies, over half (55%) of American adults own a laptop, an 8% increase from a year ago. That statistic is rapidly approaching the 62% of adults who own a desktop computer, down 6% since 2006.

Details aside, the wireless Web is quickly becoming an essential part of the life of the average American.

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