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Remote Control to People’s Lives with Emotional Attachment: Global Study Provides New Insights into Smartphone Obsession

Kimberly Meyer


A week without a smartphone? For many people this is so unimaginable that they would rather give up their family and friends than their mobile companions. Smartphones are interwoven with a large part of our everyday lives. Life events simply don’t happen without it. In our new global study, we interviewed more than 2,600 people in Brazil, Germany, India, Russia and the United States about their relationship to their smartphone – with remarkable results.



Working while travelling, measuring our pulse, opening the front door, paying in a restaurant and of course, using the mobile Internet: Never before have we integrated a technical device into our everyday lives as deeply as the smartphone. When Apple presented its first iPhone model almost exactly ten years ago, we could only guess what the huge potential of the mobile all-rounder would be. The smartphone, previously referred to as a pocked computer, only had a niche existence for a few nerds until then.


Smartphone Has Become the Remote Control of Our Lives


With millions of apps, the almost perfect merging together of software and hardware, as well as high-speed Internet connectivity, the smartphone has become what it is today, namely the remote control of our lives. It is only logical that people develop an emotional relationship with their mobile companion. Without their smartphone, many feel frustrated (27%), lost (26%), stressed (19%) or sad (16%). This was the result of our new study Smartphone and IoT Consumer Trends 2017 published by B2X in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Anton Meyer and Prof. Dr. Thomas Hess from Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich.


But what is the origin of our deep relationship to a technical device like the smartphone? Michael Lynch approached this question in an exciting article for the Guardian. Due to its immediate availability and easy handling, the smartphone has developed into a natural extension of ourselves. According to Lynch, we can go even further: We ourselves actually are our smartphone because we continuously feed it with our personal ideas and deepest longings.


Global Smartphone Use Reveals Obsessive Traits


Our study shows what is really meant by this: A quarter of Millennials check their smartphones more than 100 times a day. About half check their phone at least 50 times a day. Added up, every fourth Millennial spends more than five hours on their smartphone, which corresponds to about a third of the time we are awake. Even 16% of the two generations older baby boomers, which had to become familiar with technical innovations such as the smartphone as digital immigrants, check their smartphone more than 50 times a day.


Remaining with the image of the smartphone as an extension of ourselves, we found that 85% always have their smartphone ready at hand and more than a quarter always have it on them, even at night. On the one hand, this result is surprising, however, it aligns seamlessly with another finding. 57% of smartphone users are less patient and expect an immediate response from their friends and family, or at least a response within a few minutes.


Smartphones More Important Than Family, Friends and Sex


According to IHS, 6 billion smartphones will be in use by 2020. Yet, our study did not confirm the widespread perception that the smartphone boom is continuing in emerging markets at a low price segment. The trend is going towards high-quality smartphones. Nearly 10% of consumers plan to spend more than $750 on their next smartphone. 26% plan to spend at least $500.


With increasing spending on smartphones, emotional attachment and perceived dependency growing. Fewer and fewer people are willing to separate from their mobile companions. They would rather give up families, friends and sex instead of having to say goodbye to their smartphone for a week. 74% would not even given up their smartphone for a month in exchange for a day with one of their favorite celebrities. 4% would even go to prison for a month instead of giving up their smartphone for a year. Smartphones and human beings are a sacred alliance that seemingly nothing can separate.


Summary: Since its reinvention ten years ago, the smartphone has become an integral part of our lives. Our global Smartphone and IoT Consumer Trends 2017 study shows how obsessed people are with their device with many spending 5 hours or more on it every day. The Executive Summary of the study results, video interviews with B2X CEO Rainer Koppitz, Prof. Dr. Anton Meyer and Prof. Dr. Thomas Hess from Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich, as well as Infographics with global and country-specific statistics for Germany, India and the US can be found on our new micro-page.


Kimberly Meyer is Head of Global Marketing & Communication at B2X.

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