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Smartphone boom drives media multi-tasking

Ofcom unloads industry infoskip today

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The communications regulator Ofcom has released its annual megadump of industry statistics and factoids, and is highlighting that we're using the internet more and using multiple communications services at the same time more often too.

Multi-tasking, where users might make a phone call while surfing the net, for example, now accounts for a fifth of media and communications use.

Equally unsurprisingly, such behaviour is more common in young people, who cram more than nine and a half hours' total usage into six and a half hours. That compares to eight hours 48 minutes squeezed into the population average of seven hours of usage. Over-55s spend just 12 per cent of the media and communications time multi-tasking.

Ofcom attributes the overall rise in multi-tasking to the boom in smartphone ownership, which is up 81 per cent from 7.2 million users in May 2009 to 12.8 million in May 2010.

"Increasingly, mobile devices – especially smartphones – are used for multi-media, but live evening TV still remains the main entertainment event of the day," said Ofcom strategy partner Peter Phillips.

"Younger people have shown the biggest changes in how we use media – particularly using different media at the same time. But the divide between younger and older people's use of technology is starting to narrow as more older people are getting online and finding that things like email are very important to them."

For the first time, more than 50 per cent of over-55-year-olds have broadband at home.

Google retains the greatest reach of any website, but has been overtaken in total page views by Facebook. MySpace and Bebo lost 37 and 60 per cent of their UK audiences last year respectively, confirming their staus as social networking has-beens.

More traditional media and communications are going strong, however, TV would be most missed by half of adults, up from 44 per cent in 2005. Meanwhile average voice call minutes are still rising.

The full report, a mere 377 pages, is here (pdf). ®

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