What piece of information are users of cell phones or tablet computers most likely to seek out? The latest headline news, you say? Think again. The results of a local city council vote? The hottest restaurant within a 30-mile radius? Wrong and wrong. The answer: the weather.
According to a report released today from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 42% of mobile device owners get weather updates on their phones or tablets, followed by 37% who get material about restaurants or other local businesses. Another 30% get information on general local news, while 24% get local sports scores, 22% get local traffic/transportation information, 19% get local coupons and 15% get news alerts.
Compared with other adults, the report says, “these mobile local news consumers are younger, live in higher income households, are newer residents of their communities, live in nonrural areas,” and tend to have small children. They are also more likely than others “to feel they can have an impact on their communities.”
Almost one quarter of mobile local news consumers have an app that gives them information about their local surroundings, the report says, adding that these app users tend to be young and Hispanic.
Interestingly, while the media hopes to make some money off mobile platforms, only 10% of the 2,251 adults surveyed who use mobile apps to connect to local news and information pay for those apps. However, “36% of adults say they pay for local news content in some form,” whether for their local print newspaper, for an app or for access to special content online. Most of them are paying for local print newspapers.
Other conclusions reached in the survey: Asked about the value of online access to their local newspaper, 23% would pay $5 a month go get full access to this content online; 18% say they would pay $10. Approximately 75% say they would pay nothing. In addition, 28% of respondents indicate that the loss of the local newspaper “would have a major impact on their ability to keep up with local information;” 30% say it would have “a minor impact,” and 39% say the loss of the newspaper would have “no impact.”
The report is titled, “How mobile devices are changing community information environments.”