US Internet Users Rely on Mobile Devices for Digital Access - eMarketer

Newsletters Sign-Up

Plans & Pricing

Does My Company Subscribe?

US Internet Users Rely on Mobile Devices for Digital Access

Over 31 million US internet users will only go online via a mobile device in 2016

March 2, 2016

Internet usage is pervasive in the US, with eight in 10 people now going online regularly. But consumers’ digital lifestyle has evolved into a multidevice experience, with mobile devices playing a prominent role in 2016, as explored in a new eMarketer report, “US Digital Users: The eMarketer Forecast for 2016.”

US Internet Users, by Device, 2014-2020 (millions)

Today, more and more people in the US are relying on their mobile devices for digital access. eMarketer expects that 88.3% of US internet users will go online via desktop/laptop at least monthly in 2016, a significant decrease from 97.3% in 2011. This year, nearly one in 10 US internet users (11.7%) will go online exclusively through a mobile device—what eMarketer defines as mobile-only internet users—and that number will continue to rise through the forecast period.

More than eight in 10 people in the US will use a mobile phone in 2016. Annual user gains will not climb substantially over the forecast period, with any growth coming from new mobile phone users in the youngest and oldest age segments.

In 2016, smartphone users will account for nearly four out of five mobile phone users. Despite such a high penetration rate, the smartphone user base will grow steadily at 8.7% this year.

The robust growth of smartphone audiences seen in earlier years has ended due to saturation, and any gains will be fueled by the influx of low-cost smartphones and added device functionality and features—such as larger screens, which have attracted many new smartphone users. These factors should help support growth among late adopters of smartphones, especially adults 55 years and older.

US Mobile Phone Users and Penetration, 2014-2020 (millions, % change and % of population)

Tablet usage is increasing as well. In 2016, over half of the US population and nearly two out of every three internet users will use a tablet. Usage has grown substantially since the first iteration of the iPad was released in 2010. However, the initial surge in tablet adoption has ended, and year-over-year gains will slowly abate.

US Tablet Users and Penetration, 2014-2020 (millions, % of internet users and % of population)

The US tablet audience reached its peak growth in 2012, soaring by 182.4%, but it will expand by just 4.7% this year. Competition from smartphones, phablets and the lack of new tablet features are factors inhibiting further uptake. Additionally, the extended replacement cycles of tablets have delayed the need for users to buy a new device. That said, tablet users will still continue to see year-over-year gains. Usage in enterprise and educational markets, improved features of the device—like tablets with 2-in-1 functionality—and lower-cost models will fuel future increases in penetration.

eMarketer defines tablet users as individuals of any age who use a tablet at least once per month—a tablet user does not need to own a tablet. Because tablets are commonly shared among members in a household, one device is likely to have multiple users.

eMarketer corporate subscription clients can view the full report here.

Get more on this topic with the full eMarketer report, “US Digital Users: The eMarketer Forecast for 2016.”

eMarketer releases over 200 analyst reports per year, which are only available to eMarketer corporate subscribers.


  • Go beyond the articles:

    eMarketer Products

    You've never experienced research like this.

  • Hear from our clients:

    Customer Stories

    Nearly all Fortune 500 companies rely on us.

  • Want to learn more?

    Contact Us

    Inquire about corporate subscriptions today.