In the last 30 days, it’s likely that you’ve used your smartphone to plan a meeting, solve a problem, settle an argument, check a score, decide where to eat, find out the traffic report, or get emergency help. According to Pew Research, 86% of smartphone users can be considered “just in time” cell users because they rely on the smartphone to solve problems or get answers immediate answers. “Just-in-time Information through Mobile Connections” details this tendency among smartphone users.
As more and more people have adopted smartphone use, we’re fast becoming a culture of “real time information seekers and problem solvers.” Pew Research conducted a survey “between March 15 and April 3, 2012 among 2,254 adults age 18 and older and it found that 88% of adults are cell phone owners and that 46% are smartphone owners.” Their research indicated that 70% of all cell phone users and 86% of smartphone users had accessed their wireless devices within the last 30 days for time critical information.
While 88% of young people between 18-29 use their phones for “just in time” information (JIT users), it is interesting to discover that 57% of adults between 50-64 are also JIT users and 46% of adults over 64 are JIT users. Youth have been early adopters of smartphone technology, but this survey indicates that more and more older adults use their cell phones for much more than just calling friends and family. We are fast becoming a society of people used to instant information access.
Here are the highlights of how we are using cell phones:
- 41% of cell phone owners used their phone in the previous 30 days to coordinate a meeting or get-together.
- 35% used their phone to solve an unexpected problem they or someone else had encountered in the previous 30 days.
- 30% used their phone in the previous 30 days to decide whether to visit a business, such as a restaurant
- 27% used their phone in the previous 30 days to get information to help settle an argument they were having.
- 23% used their phone in the previous 30 days to look up a score of a sporting event.
- 20% used their phone in the previous 30 days for up-to-the-minute traffic or public transit information to find the fastest way to get somewhere.
- 19% used their phone to get help in an emergency situation.
As I read the report, I started thinking about my own smartphone use. What time-critical activities do I regularly engage in?
- Weather reports
- Coordinating meetings and lunch appointments
- Price checking
- Looking up movie showtimes
- Locating businesses
- Defining words
- Researching information that someone is talking to me about
Using a cell phone as a “just in time” device has become so second nature for most of us, I doubt we hardly think about how often we use the phone for referencing information needed in the moment. This raises the question, “How are you using your smartphone or cell phone?” What types of just in time information are you looking up on a regular basis?
 Lee Rainie and Susannah Fox. “Just-in-time Information through Mobile Connections.” Pew Research, May 7, 2012