A solid majority of Americans own PCs and mobile phones, but the gadgets play a minimal role in the lives of almost half of US adults, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project’s "A Typology of Information and Communication Technology Users" study.

Nearly three-fourths of US adults surveyed had a mobile phone, and 68% had a desktop computer.

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Devices Owned by US Adults, February-April 2006 (% of respondents)

US Internet users engage in a healthy range of activities online, such as instant messaging or downloading digital content for a price. But the number of people who do these things regularly (as indicated by having done the activity "yesterday") is surprisingly low across the board. Only 4% of Internet users had downloaded paid music the day before the survey, for instance.

Online Activities of US Adult Internet Users, February-April 2006 (% of respondents)

Pew’s data on that point are in line with a Solutions Research Group study, in which nearly one in four US Internet users had paid to download music in June 2006, up from only 8% the year before.

US Internet Users Who Have Paid to Download Music, 2005 & 2006 (% of respondents)

Even digital music buyers do not get a new album every day. But the Pew study also revealed a larger issue.

Besides just tallying overall device ownership and Internet user activity, the study segmented technology usage among the entire US adult populace.

The result?

John Horrigan of Pew noted that "49% of Americans only occasionally use modern gadgetry and many others bristle at electronic connectivity."

The segmentation uncovered some feelings about technology which mere device ownership and occasional usage did not. As an example, some of the infrequent users did not like how gadgets made them more available to others, and they did not think those gadgets made them more productive.

This is a good argument for using multiple media in a campaign. Just because adults are online does not necessarily mean that the Internet is the best tool for reaching them.

Via eMarketer