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Differences between smartphones and PCs in online research and future prospects

Internet and mobile phone use is a global phenomenon, and penetration rates are impressive in every country. As technology progresses, communication devices are shifting from analog to digital age. With the spread of the Internet, online surveys that do not use mail or telephone are becoming more frequent. In this article, we will examine the differences between smartphones and PCs in online research and the future outlook.

Internet use from PC to smartphone

[Recent Internet Usage Trends] In
2016, the penetration rate of the Internet in Japan (internet users in the past year) was 83.5%, with a population of 100.84 million. 82.6% aged 6-12, 98% aged 13-29, 97% aged 30-49, 93% aged 50-59, 83.3% aged 60-64, 69.4% aged 65-69, 70-79 53.6%, 80-23.4%, and the number of users other than the 65-69 age group has increased from the previous year. Overall, the Internet penetration rate is higher among young people, and it is over 90% among those under the age of 50.

[Comparison of smartphones and PCs using the Internet]
Looking at the breakdown of Internet users, 46% use PCs and 85% use smartphones. By age group, 70% of teens use only smartphones, 54% of those in their 30s, and 33% of those in their 50s. Again, the younger the age group, the higher the rate of Internet usage with only smartphones.

Characteristics of online research using smartphones

As a feature of recent marketing research, surveys using smartphones have become mainstream. Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of using smartphones.

[Advantages of smartphone net research]
・Large-scale surveys are possible: Questionnaires can be sent to a large number of targets.
・You can get the survey results quickly: You can collect the survey results immediately after conducting the survey.
・No hassle and cost: Unlike paper-based surveys, there are no costs for paper, printing, or postage.
・ Easy approach to young people: It is easy to approach young people who do not have a PC through smartphones.
・Easy to analyze results: Data can be saved on a PC, making it easy to aggregate and analyze questionnaire responses.

[Disadvantages of smartphone net research]
・Monitor bias: Even if you send a survey, if you do not use the internet or are not interested, you may not get an answer, and the monitor may be biased.
・Doubts about the reliability of answers: There are an increasing number of malicious monitors aiming for rewards obtained by answering questionnaires. It’s easy to give false answers on a computer, so some monitors try to get paid for giving random answers.

The Future of Internet Research

Internet surveys have both positive and negative points. Here, let’s take a look at the points to be aware of in Internet surveys and how they should be in the future.

[Points to note when conducting online surveys]
・Make questionnaires that are easy to answer: It is important to set questions that are easy for the monitor to answer.
・Time to answer within 10 minutes: Set the time required to answer all questions within 10 minutes.
・Avoid excessive use of matrix format and open-ended answers: Many smartphone users find it troublesome to scroll through matrix questions and enter text for open-ended answers. If you feel that it is troublesome, there are cases where you give false answers or random answers.
・Screening survey: Since the preliminary survey conducted prior to the main survey is useful under limited conditions, a screening survey will be conducted depending on the survey content.

[Points for future online surveys]
・ Answers on multiple devices: As mentioned above, many young people will answer from smartphones, and those in their 60s and older will often answer from PCs, so in order to avoid monitor bias, we will be able to answer on multiple devices. It is also a good idea to do so.
・Keep questions simple and not too complicated: People tend to shy away from asking questions that are too complicated or too long, whether they are on a smartphone or a computer. In that case, the monitor may not respond.
・Not too many choices: If there are too many choices when choosing an answer, you may get lost and take time to answer or you may not be able to answer.


Not only smartphones but also mobile phones are owned by many people from their teens to those in their 80s and above. A mobile phone is necessary for a convenient life. Mobile phones and smartphones are deeply embedded in our daily lives. Many people carry mobile phones and smartphones with them at all times, and the opening rate of questionnaires and emails is much higher than that of personal computers. Also, when conducting Internet surveys, it may be more effective to use both smartphones and personal computers when considering the attributes of the panel. Compared to when paper was used, costs and time can be significantly reduced, so please consider using different devices depending on the content of the survey.



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