May 23, 2022

Market Research: U.S. Smartphone Users Spend as Much Time on Entertainment as Texting

From GfK MRI:

According to new GfK MRI research, today’s smartphone user is just as likely to be seeking mindless entertainment – playing a game or streaming a video – as connecting with friends and family through texting or other modes.

When asked which smartphone activities are most important to them first thing in the morning, users mention texting most often, but also place entertainment apps – like streaming music services – above Twitter and other well-known platforms.

The findings come from a just-published GfK MRI study, Mobile Now, conducted from September to November 2015 among over 5,900 US smartphone owners. The study shows that 22% of time spent on smartphones is devoted to entertainment – games, music, web surfing, and watching streamed content; that is the same proportion devoted to texting. Phone calls account for another 22% of time; social media, 10%, and emails, 10%.

In addition to time spent with different smartphone functions, the Mobile Now report also covers

  • today’s five types (segments) of mobile users – from social media ”addicts” to game enthusiasts (see page 2 for more information)
  • top smartphone uses and activities across mobile segments, as well as different generations and ethnicities
  • popularity and potential of wearables – including reasons for wanting and intent to purchase
  • trends in mobile purchase behavior by platform and mode

When GfK MRI asked consumers which smartphone apps or functions they turn to first thing in the morning, texting was cited most often, by 67% of respondents. Email came in second, mentioned by 63%, followed by Facebook (48%) and the weather (44%). Hispanics were even more likely to mentioned texting (73%), with email a relatively distant also-ran (at 64%)

Games overall came in 7th first thing in the morning, mentioned by 19% of respondents. And streaming music service Pandora (12%) placed above Pinterest, Twitter, and other well-known social media apps..

Over two-thirds (68%) of consumers – and more than four-fifths (83%) of Millennials – reported that they text more than they talk on their smartphones. And texting is the phone feature that respondents said they would miss most if it was not available.


The study also reveals that roughly four in ten (39%) of smartphone owners are either ardent Mobile Embracers (24%), who integrate their smartphones into every aspect of their lives, or Entertainment Seekers (15%) – young singles who are drawn to mobile gaming and watching streaming video.

The other key segments that GfK MRI identified are:

  • Casual Gamers – 18% of the smartphone population, likely to be white women who have kids
  • Casual Gamers – 18% of the smartphone population, likely to be white women who have kids
  • Info Seekers – 18%, frequently white, educated, married men interested in news and/or sports
  • Mobile Fundamentals – 25%, awkward users who need help just downloading a new app
About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.