Over half (54.9 percent) of U.S. mobile subscribers were wielding a smartphone at the end of June 2012, according to Nielsen. The smartphone segment continues to grow, and if Nielsen's figures are correct, two out of three mobile phone shoppers now opt for a smartphone rather than a feature phone. Google's Android platform is the biggest benefactor of this trend, which claims the lion's share of the smartphone OS market.
Google remains the most popular website around, but U.S. visitors are spending more of their time on Facebook, according to Nielsen's list of the Top 10 Web Brands for July 2011. There wasn't much jockeying for the No. 1 spot, with Google serving over 172 million unique visitors in July, and Facebook claiming the second most with just shy of 159 million unique visitors.
Market research firm Nielsen put together some interesting, if not slightly disparaging, figures on the state of high definition programming. Here's the deal. The majority of U.S. households -- 56 percent -- own an HD television, which is "one of the most quickly adopted consumer entertainment technologies of the past 20 years." But even though the hardware is in place, standard definition programming still rules.
"Only 13 percent of total day viewing on cable and 19 percent of viewing on broadcast television is 'true HD' viewing, which requires an HD television and HD tuner that are tuned to an HD channel," Nielsen said. "In other words, despite the billions of dollars that Americans have spent buying high definition TVs, more than 80 percent of television viewing is still a standard definition experience."
Nielsen identifies a few different reasons for the disparity. First, some 44 percent of homes either don't own an HD set or subscribe to HD service. Secondly, most homes have at least one non-HD TV, of which about one-third of programming is viewed. And finally, that swank HD set in your living room still views non-HD programming about 20 percent of the time.
Peering into its crystal ball, Nielsen says HD viewing will continue to increase as kids and teens get HD sets in their rooms and as cable and satellite providers switch HD channels for SD where available.
Granted it's no secret teenagers love to text, but if you want to back up that claim with some hard numbers, here you go. According to Nielsen, American teens send an average of 3,339 text messages every month. That equates to more than six texts for every hour they're awake, which is 8 percent more than it was last year.
To arrive at these figures, Nielsen combed through cell phone bills from more than 60,000 mobile subscribers, and on top of that surveyed over 3,000 teens. Predictably, Nielsen found that no one texts more than teens (13-17 years old), with female teens being the most active texters at 4,050 texts per month.
Texting has become such a prominent part of American culture that it's now the No. 1 reason for getting a phone (43 percent), same as it was in 2009 (42 percent). Coming in second is safety (35 percent), followed by keeping in touch with friends and family (34 percent and 26 percent, respectively), always being available (22 percent), and convenience (20 percent).
Jonesing for more? Texting is fast replacing voice communication. Nielsen says voice activity has decreased 14 percent a month among teens, who average 646 minutes of talk time each month.
"Only adults over 55 talk less than teens," Nielsen says.
Let's face it, no one's going to topple Google in the search game, at least not any time soon. That means the real race is for second place, and it's there that Microsoft's Bing and Yahoo's Yahoo Search run neck in neck.
Which search engine leads the pack from second place depends on who you ask, and if you put your faith in Nielsen's numbers, then Bing just inched ahead of Yahoo in the international search game.
"Nielsen's search data only counts genuine intentional searches that people type into a search box," Nielsen explains. "It does not include non-intended or 'contextual' searches that are automatically generated by search engines based on a person's browsing behavior."
With Nielsen's formula in place, the research firm says says Bing controlled 13.9 percent of the search market in August, up just barely from July. Yahoo, meanwhile, slid backwards 1.5 percentage points from 14.6 percent in July to 13.1 percent in August.
For now, Google has nothing to worry about in the search market. Despite a 1 percent drop in month-on-month market share, Google is still crushing the competition with a 64.2 percent share, followed by Yahoo in a distant second at 14.3 percent. And what about Bing?
Yes, what about Bing. Microsoft's spunky search engine sits in third place with a 13.6 percent share of the market, and that alone doesn't sound particularly impressive. But make no mistake, Bing is on the up and up. While all but one other top five search engine showed a year-on-year drop in market share, Bing managed to move up by a whopping 51 percent. During that same period, Google moved backwards by 1 percent.
When you consider that Bing is now powering Yahoo's U.S. search operations, the market share outlook could look a whole lot more competitive this time next year. Google can afford to rest on its laurels for a little while longer, but after all this time at the top, we could soon be looking at a market share split.
Have you been on Facebook today? How about Twitter, YouTube, or any other of the scores of social networking sites scattered across the Web? Chances are you've visited at least one of them, and if Nielsen's latest stats are correct, you'll spend about six hours this month on social networking sites and blogs.
According to Nielsen, users are now spending 23 percent of their Internet time on social networking sites, a leap of 7 percentage points from this same time last year. This ranks as the biggest jump for any of Nielsen's online categories, which also include checking email, using Web portals, and playing games. And if we widen the social umbrella to also include communicating via blogs, personal email, and instant messaging, that number jumps to 36 percent.
"Despite the almost the almost unlimited nature of what you can do on the Web, nearly half of U.S. online time is spent on three activities -- social networking, playing games, and emailing," says Dave Martin, vice president of primary research at Nielsen.
Other activities, like shopping and random Web searches, haven't changed a whole lot, while watching online videos increased slightly from 3.5 percent to 3.9 percent from June 2009 to June 2010.
Yeah! Another top-ten list for 2009. This one’s from Nielsen, the kindly folks who track our TV viewing habits, and now bless us with four lists for mobile phones: phone brand, web sites accessed, brands accessed, and video channels accessed.
It’s an odd top ten list, as it only covers the period January to September (October for cell phones), but the top mobile phone is the Apple iPhone, with 4 percent of the “embedded base of all subscribers.” RIM’s BlackBerry 8300 series comes in at number two, with 3.7%, followed by Motorola’s RAZR V3 series, with 2.3%. (Nielsen doesn’t report cumulative brand usage, so these rankings are misleading from that perspective.)
What web sites are all those cell phone users accessing? Would you be shocked that Google Search ranked number one? Me either. Following in second place is Yahoo! Mail, then Gmail, the Weather Channel, and Facebook. Only ordinal ranks are reported, so overall popularity is unknown.
The top brand--surprise--was Yahoo!. (You thought it was going to be Google, didn’t you?) Google came in second, followed by MSN/Windows Live/Bing, AOL Media Network, and the Weather Channel.
And lastly, video channels: the big ‘winner’ here is YouTube. The runners up are Fox Interactive Media, the Weather Channel, Comedy Central, and CBS. (What’s with the Weather Channel? Weather’s pretty obvious when you’re in it. Why do you need a channel to verify the experience?)
This whole mobile thing is really catching on, as women, teens, and seniors 65 and older are finding out. According to Nielsen, web visitors using a mobile device shot up 34 percent year-over-year, catapulting from 42.5 million mobile surfers in July 2008 to just shy of 57 million in July 2009. And most of those visitors are from the three previously mentioned demographics.
In fact, year-over-year growth among teens aged 13-17 increased 45 percent, while seniors shot up by over 67 percent, Nielsen said. Those were the two most active demographics, and while male surfers still make up the majority of the mobile Web at 53 percent, visitors of the opposite sex outpaced their male counterparts in July.
"As with other forms of Internet technology, more men were early-adopters of the mobile Web and still make up a slightly larger presence today," commented Chris Quick, client services manager, mobile media. "Now that the technology is more mainstream, women are quickly embracing the benefits as 'connected customers,' tapping the convenience of Web access on mobile phones to network, browser the latest shopping deals, and get ideas for dinner, all while on the go."
An interesting side note: People.com (No. 1), MySpace.com (No. 5), and Facebook.com (No. 9) were among the top 10 mobile sites among women in July, while men were busy surfing Gizmodo.com (No. 1), Maxim.com (No. 2), and Wired.com (No. 10).
According to DigitalBeat, Facebook today is expected to announce a partnership with media research firm Nielsen that will give the social networking site better analytics on how its ads are doing.
The partnership comes just one week after Facebook flew past 300 million users and, presumably, will bring the site closer to its goal of being a massive company on the same level as Yahoo, Microsoft, and Google. In order to do that, Facebook needs a strong presence in the advertising market.
As part of the partnership, advertisers who are also Nielsen customers will be allowed to poll Facebook users who have seen the ads on the social network's site. These will appear in the sponsored messages space on Facebook's homepage, and according to Facebook, they will be controlled to limit participation. Facebook also allayed privacy concerns by promising that no personally identifiable information will be collected.