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Mobile and Technology Trends in North America

Posted Apr 12, 2021

Looking back at the whirlwind of 2020, coronavirus has definitely made changes in the consumer landscape. People’s behavior during the pandemic could have long term and, in many instances, permanent effects on their daily habits. How has consumer behavior changed in regards to mobile and technology? GlobalWebIndex surveyed internet users in North America to answer that question.

GWI’s region snapshot for North America tracks key digital behaviors and engagement rates at a regional level, providing up-to-date figures as well as trends over time and across demographics. In this blog post, we’ll be focusing on key insights from the region’s mobile and technology usage. These statistics behind consumer actions will help to shed light on the best way brands can reach them.

Time Spent on PCs/Laptops Increased, Mobile Usage Stayed Strong 

GWI’s report revealed that North American consumers spent an average of 3:09 on mobile and 4:03 on computers in 2020. PC/laptop usage increased last year because North Americans had more access to those devices during stay-at-home measures.

Although most age groups spent more time on PCs and laptops, mobile usage remained strong and could possibly increase in 2021 when more people return to work and pre-pandemic activities. The report also revealed that Gen Z spends the most time on mobile devices with Millennials not too far behind.

More People Are Playing Games on Smartphones

Since 2015, the share of internet users who use smartphones to play games increased by 10% from 50% to 60%. Meanwhile, shares of consumers playing games on computers and consoles has decreased in the past five years by 22% and 6% respectively. Although people spent more time on laptops and PCs last year, they still preferred the convenience and ease of playing mobile games.

Consumers Plan to Upgrade with iPhone and Samsung Smartphones

Almost half (43%) of North American consumers plan on buying a new phone or upgrading in the next 12 months. This is a bit lower than the global average of 57%. Respondents were asked which brand they would buy when they would upgrade or buy a new phone. In North America, iPhone came out on top with Samsung as the second most popular brand. LG, Google Pixel, and Motorola had much lower shares, each less than 15%. Furthermore, mobile upgraders are most interested in devices that are 5G enabled and have enhanced camera capabilities like dual-camera or better resolution.

Video Calls and FaceTime Kept Mobile Users Connected

Half of mobile users said they made a video call or used FaceTime in the last month at the time of the survey. This represents a 13% increase from the same time frame the previous year. Lockdowns have hindered get-togethers so consumers have relied on this feature to interact with loved ones they might not be able to see in-person. The report also said that 30% of consumers used or scanned a QR code in the last month. To reduce the spread of germs, food places have gotten rid of menus and have provided QR codes for people to choose what to eat. 

How consumers use technology is always changing but, mobile has proved itself to be the future of internet access. Although many internet users returned to their computers, it is only a matter of time before life goes back to normal (or a new normal) and users rely fully on their mobile devices while being out and about. Brands looking to reach audiences at scale should consider the smartphones, apps, and games that consumers have grown dependent on.

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