texting globally

Have you seen the Apple commercial showing Santa asking the iPhone’s Siri for guidance?  Well, it’s not far off the mark. Seventy-five percent of cellphone users around the globe use their phones for text messaging, in wealthy countries as well as poor ones, according to a new study.

“Texting is widespread in both wealthy nations and the developing world. In fact, it is most common among cell phone owners in two of the poorest nations surveyed: Indonesia and Kenya,” among 96 percent and 89 percent, respectively, according to a report from Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project.

“In Western Europe, seven in 10 or more say they send text messages on their cell phones, with the notable exception of Germany, where just 56 percent regularly text,” Pew said. “Only in India and Pakistan do less than half (49 percent and 44 percent, respectively) of cell phone owners text.”

The cellphone as camera is also popular, with a median of 50 percent of those in the 21 countries polled saying they use their phones snap photos or take videos (72 percent do in Japan, 61 percent in Mexico and 57 percent in the United States).

About 23 percent of worldwide cellphone users get to the Internet via their phones; but more than four in 10 do so in places like Israel (47 percent), Japan (47 percent) and the United States (43 percent).

Facebook, Twitter and other social networking via cellphone is also a growing phenomenon. In 15 countries, at least 25 percent said they use social networking sites. Topping the list is Israel (53 percent) and the U.S. (50 percent).

“Social networking is generally more common in higher income nations; however, this is largely driven by the fact that wealthier countries have higher rates of internet access,” Pew said. “People in lower income nations who have online access use social networking at rates that are as high, or higher, than those found in affluent countries.”

Two “notable” exceptions: Egypt and Russia, countries “where the role of social media in recent political upheaval has been the subject of considerable attention. In both nations, usage has increased by ten percentage points over the past year, from 18 percent in 2010 to 28 percent in 2011 in Egypt and from 33 percent to 43 percent in Russia.”

cellphone usage

The survey by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project of more than 23,000 people around the world was conducted March 21 to May 15.

Also worth noting: While social networking via cellphone “varies considerably by age in almost all countries surveyed,” in 13 of the 21 countries majorities of those under 30 use social networking sites, said Pew. The only country in which “even a quarter of those 50 or older engages in social networking”? The United States.