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Americans are going wireless Internet big time, report says

Pew Research Center releases a report that most Americans are now accessing the Internet via wireless means.

A few days ago, the Pew Research Center released a report that Americans are looking online to fight the recession. On Tuesday it added that most of us are doing that via wireless Internet.

The results of the center's Internet & American Life Project survey show that 56 percent of adult Americans have accessed the Internet via wireless means, such as a Wi-Fi laptop, a mobile device, a game console, or an MP3 player. The most popular way people get online wirelessly is with a laptop computer, numbering 39 percent of some 2,200 survey participants.

The report also revealed the rising levels of Americans using the Internet on a mobile handset. Almost one-third (32 percent) have used a cell phone or a smartphone to access the Internet for e-mailing, instant messaging, or reading news.

For comparison, only 24 percent of Americans had done this by December 2007. Now, in a typical day, nearly one-fifth (19 percent) of Americans use the Internet on a mobile device, up substantially from the 11 percent level recorded in December 2007.

The cell phone's main purpose as a voice device has changed substantially. According to the report, in 2009, 69 percent say that they have used the cell phone for at least one of the non-voice activities.

These activities include text messaging, taking a picture, playing a game, accessing the Internet, recording video, instant messaging, playing music, getting maps or directions, and watching video. Back in 2007, only 58 percent did this.

The usage of of non-voice activities on a typical day has also increased from only 32 percent in 2007 to 44 percent in 2009. Half of Americans now think that the ability to access the Internet via their mobile devices is vital to how they stay in touch with people.

These changes in the way we access the Internet are hardly surprising, especially with the proliferation in recent years of smartphones that come with advanced Internet capabilities, such as the iPhone or the Palm Pre.

Personally, I read most of my e-mails via my iPhone 3G and I use it mostly for non-voice purposes. How about you?