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Social networking is finally becoming a common practice in Germany. That's one conclusion of a November 2015 report from Initiative D21, a network of over 200 companies, associations and other institutions that aims to speed Germany's transition to a 21st century information society. TNS Infratest surveyed over 1,900 consumers ages 14 and older in June and July 2015.
Using search engines remained the most common activity among internet users, cited by 94%. Yet 68% said they searched blogs, forums and similar sites for information or advice, and 64% said they visited social networks—confirming that social media is now broadly popular in a country where social networking had a notably slow start. Ecommerce has caught on, too. Some 64% of respondents said they now used digital channels for shopping and buying. A clear majority (56%) also banked online.
Researchers found predictable shifts in the devices consumers used to go online. For the first time in the history of the survey, desktop PCs weren't the most popular internet access devices. Six in 10 respondents were still accessing the web via desktop in 2015, but laptops had edged ahead, used by 61%. The share of people using a smartphone to go online climbed from 53% to 60% in a single year, while the proportion using a tablet for that same purpose rose from 28% to 35%—nearly triple the level of usage in 2013.
Mobile internet use still varied markedly between different demographic groups, though. For example, males were more likely than females to access the mobile web, by 58.2% to 49.6%. In households with monthly income under €1,000 ($1,327), mobile web penetration was about 30%. In homes earning between €2,000 ($2,654) and €3,000 ($3,981), the share of respondents who were mobile web users was roughly double that, at 59.0%. In the highest-income households, 69.1% of residents used the mobile web.
There were also big differences in mobile internet uptake between the youngest and oldest consumers. Over 84% of respondents ages 14 to 29 used a mobile device to go online, compared with less than one-third of those ages 60 to 69, and just 13.9% of seniors 70 and older. Household size also had a direct bearing on the likelihood of mobile internet usage. While 37.5% of people living alone accessed the internet via mobile, over two-thirds of consumers in households of three or more residents were mobile web users.
Overall, these estimates of mobile internet use tally closely with those of eMarketer. Our forecasts indicate that by the end of this year, 53.3% of Germany's entire population will access the internet via a mobile browser or installed application at least once per month. In 2016, that share will rise to 59.8%.
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