According to the data from Nielsen research, as of January 2012, almost half (48 percent) of all mobile phone users have a smartphone device.
This is an increase of 36 percent over the number of smartphones at the same time last year, which had increased by 23 percent over the first quarter of 2010. The penetration of smartphones is racing ahead and shows no signs of stopping, though it is notably changing the way that consumers are interacting with the online environment.
Businesses are taking note of the difference that smartphones are making in people’s shopping habits. The Nielsen study showed that 22 percent of smartphone owners have used their mobile device to make a purchase through an m-commerce website or a mobile app.
The study involved the participation of 300,000 individuals who have mobile phones. Among them, 15 percent reported to have placed a bid for an item at an online auction, while 12 percent had made event ticket purchases. Also, 10 percent had used the device to purchase digital videos or music.
However, what the study also recognized was that m-commerce wasn’t entirely about the use of the mobile device to actually make the final purchase. Instead, sites and apps for mobile commerce are more often used as shopping tools that are used on a multichannel basis.
Nielsen found, for example, that among smartphone owners, 38 percent said that they would browse through the products offered from mobile apps and sites as an initial preparation step before they visit a brick-and-mortar store, or simply to kill time while they are on the go, for example while they are commuting.