Cell phone is 'gadget of choice' for Americans

Americans own a variety of gadgets, but the cell phone rules them all. Eighty-five percent of adults have one, according to Pew research.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

U.S. consumers crave their gadgets, but the cell phone rules them all, according to a new Pew Internet study.

Among the 3,000 adults surveyed, 85 percent own cell phones. Mobile phones are especially in demand among younger adults, with 96 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds owning one. But even among those 65 and older, 58 percent have a cell phone.

Pew Internet

The second hottest device--a computer--is owned by 76 percent of those surveyed. Breaking down that category, the laptop has grown in popularity and is now owned by 52 percent versus 30 percent in early 2006. Meanwhile, desktop ownership has dropped to 59 percent from 68 percent four years ago. Among 18- to 29-year-olds, 72 percent own a laptop and 56 percent have a desktop.

Almost half (47 percent) of the folks questioned own an MP3 player, a huge jump from the 11 percent who had one in early 2005. American also are into games, with 42 percent owning a game console. And in a nod to game-playing kids, parents (64 percent) are more likely than the kid-free set (33 percent) to have a game console in the house.

Demand for tablets and e-book readers has been growing, notes the study, but at this point they're still owned by a sliver of the people surveyed. However, these types of gadgets are more popular among college grads and those earning $75,000 or more a year.

So just how many different gadgets does the average person own? Pew's survey, which was released yesterday, found that 78 percent of all adults have two or more of the seven types of devices profiled in the survey. But the results vary by age. The average senior (65 and older) owns just one gadget, people between 55 and 64 have two, and those under 45 own four.

To compile its report, Pew surveyed 3,001 American adults ages 18 and older between August 9 and September 13.