The Swedes and the internet 2014

An annual study of the Swedish people's internet habits

2. The mobile boom continues

After the initial deployment phase and the following broadband phase, we are now a few years into the mobile phase and it continues unabated. The smartphones that initially were used to a lesser extent were, in 2011, given proper distribution. After that, it went quickly. Today, 73 percent use smartphones and 69 percent connect to the internet via mobile phones, 54 percent use it daily and 31 percent several times a day.

Next: Communication and social network

Diagram 2.1. Number of the population in different ages that have a smartphone, that use it sometimes or daily. Show as table Download

Little interest in smartphones among the elderly

In the ages of 55 years and older, the interest in smartphones has been weak. Almost everyone has access to mobile phones, 97 percent among younger pensioners and 81 percent among those over 75 years. But older people use it mainly as a phone and not to connect to the internet. 26 percent of pensioners that have access to a smartphone never connect to the internet via a mobile phone. The use of smartphones then decreases rapidly among those older than 55 years, and among pensioners there are few who daily use a smartphone. Virtually all (97%) younger pensioners (66-75) have access to a mobile phone, 38 percent have access to a smartphone, 30 percent use the internet sometimes on their mobile phone and 14 percent do it daily.


Diagram 2.2. Number of those with a mobile phone in different age groups who daily use the internet on their phone. Show as table Download

The young have been the driving force

Mobile usage has increased over the past year, although the increase was not as strong as in previous years. From almost no one using a smartphone daily in 2010, the use thereafter spread rapidly mainly between those aged 16 to 45 years. In 2013, smartphones were used daily by more than 80 percent in the ages of 12 -35 years. This is an increase of over 70 percentage points in three years. During the past year, an additional ten percentage points have arrived in almost all age groups, except among the young (12-25) where the use was already very high, and among the oldest in which the use is still low.

Diagram 2.3. Number of the population (12+ years) who with different frequency used the internet in their mobile phone during 2010–2014. Show as table Download

What characterizes the use of smartphones is the high proportion of daily users. Eight out of ten use the internet in their smartphone daily. And among those daily users is a tendency that more people use the mobile phone several times a day.


Diagram 2.4. Number of those who use a smartphone who mainly connect via mobile network or via the network (wifi) or a combination of these. Show as table Download

Smartphones are more often used in wifi networks than in the cellular network

One reason that smartphones spread so quickly, especially among the young, is that they can be linked up to the internet via wifi networks, which are found today in most homes, in schools and cafes. This reduces the cost for use especially if it is very frequent. Half (47%) of smartphone users mainly connect via a wifi network at home. A quarter (27%) connect primarily through the cellular network, while a quarter (26%) use both networks about the same.

Here, the youngest (12-15 years) differ from the others. Only 13 percent of them mainly use cellular networks for the smartphone. Much of the use of smartphones, especially among the young, thus occurs in the home or at school where there is access to wifi. (See Chapter 7 for children and youth).


Diagram 2.5. Average time (hour/week) in different age groups spent on internet and mobile phone among the users. Show as table Download

More time is devoted to the smartphone

We saw earlier that in recent years, not only are there many more who acquired a smartphone but also are today using the mobile phones much more often than before. Nearly half use their smartphone several times a day. The frequent use of smartphones, especially in the ages of 12 to 35 years, is also reflected in the time spent on using their mobile phones. The average for the age group of 12-35 years is a little more than an hour a day with a peak of almost 2 hours (1.8) per day for those in the ages between 16 and 25 years.

Diagram 2.6. Number of mobile phone time in total internet time among internet users. Show as table Download

Although the overall internet time has also increased, the increased time with the internet on a mobile phone means that a large proportion of total internet use is via mobile phones. Among the younger (12-35 years) just over a third of total internet time takes place on smartphones. This reduces with age. The average for all smartphone users in 2014 is 29 percent.

Diagram 2.7. Average time (hour/week) in different years devoted to internet on the mobile phone among users. Show as table Download

Compared to previous years, mobile internet time has increased with one hour a week between 2012 and 2013 and even a little more (1.2 hours/week) between 2013 and 2014.


Diagram 2.8. Number in different ages in the population that use a tablet. Show as table Download

More use tablets

The smartphone has, as we saw earlier, spread very rapidly among internet users after 2010. The tablet came a step behind and took off between 2011 and 2012. Unlike the smartphone, the tablet started almost from zero. Now 45 percent of the population use a tablet and 25 percent do so daily. For a comparison of the different spreading processes, see the end of this chapter.


Diagram 2.9. Number with access to a tablet at home in different ages and among parents. Show as table Download

Families with children are the driving force

Particularly noteworthy is the proliferation of tablets in families with children. Here, the parental generation (35-45 years) is in the lead. Admittedly, the tablet is used as a tool among many employed workers, but families with children seem to fit it in very well since it is easily available and easy to use even for those who cannot read. It has a large screen and starts immediately. The remarkable thing is that the access is higher in the age group of 35-45 years than in the age group of 16-25 years, where other internet use is the highest. This has meant that the access curve goes down in the ages of 16-35 years. The curve unusually goes down a notch for those age groups who would otherwise be at the top of the graphs of access and use.

Diagram 2.10. Number in different ages in the population who sometimes use a tablet. Show as table Download

84 percent of parents, aged 36-45 years, have access to a tablet, which is just as common as among children and adolescents 6 to 15 years. The use of tablets among children and adolescents is much more frequent than among the parents. 58 percent of school children aged 9-12 use a tablet daily compared to 36 percent of those who are in the ages of 36-45.

Diagram 2.11. Different ages in the population who daily use a tablet. Show as table Download

Over the past year, the proportion who use a tablet doubled and more than doubled in terms of daily use. The greatest increase has been in the ages of 36-45 years, where many are parents of small children.


Half have their own tablet

Today, 74 percent of the population has access to their own computer. Just as many have their own smartphone and 27 percent have their own tablet. This means that half (52%) of those who use a tablet have their own. 8 out of 10 internet users have their own computer and almost anyone using a smartphone has their own.


Diagram 2.12. Number of the population who during the last year have had access to smartphones and tablets, compared to the internet in an earlier period. Show as table Download

The fastest spreading curve

The primary phase when a new technology spreads is usually counted from the first bending point when taking off until the second bending point when the spread’s velocity has reached its maximum and the application rate begins to decrease. It will first be a bend upwards in the spread of the curve and then after a few years, the direction of the curve will change again and bend.

For the internet in Sweden, the spread took off in earnest in 1998 and the rate peaked around the year 2000. The rise was sharp in the late 1990s with annual increases of 15 and 21 percentage points, which was then followed by an increase of 3 percentage points since 2000. The spreading curve bent and flattened out.

For smartphones, the primary growth period was between 2010 and 2012, after a very long introductory phase. The first mobile phones that could connect to the internet were available long before the iPhone launched in 2007, but they didn’t spread very much. But in 2010, the growth momentum gained speed with an annual growth of first 14 and then 18 percentage points. Unlike that for the spread of the internet, the growth of smartphones remained high for a year after 2012 and started to decline slightly in 2014.


The spread of the tablet can beat the record

The history of the tablet is much shorter. Apple launched the iPad in 2010 and by 2012 the spread had taken off. It started with 15 points, then with 11 and last year with 22 percentage points. If the tablet’s spreading curve does not bend sharply after 2014, it would mean a record that will be hard to beat.

Both the internet via the computer and especially the smartphone had a longer start-up period of several years before the spread really took off, unlike the tablet where the spread took off almost from scratch. It has given the tablet more space for the rapid spread over a longer period: 48 percentage points in three years. But if we look back at the end of the 1990s, the spread of internet via the computer during 1998 and 1999 grew faster than both the smartphone and the tablet.


Maximum increase in percentage points over the proliferation of different media technologies


Greatest increase

In percentage points

Internet Smartphone  Tablet Television
During 1 year 21 % 16 % 22 % 20 %
During 2 years 36 % 30 % 33 % 35 %
During 3 years 41 % 42 % 48 % 45 %

Table 2.1. The largest increase in the percentage spread over the time interval 1, 2 and 3 years for the internet, smartphone and tablet.


The internet experienced the fastest growth over two years by 36 percentage points (1998-2000). Then the tablet follows with 33 percentage points (2012-2014), and not long after, the smartphone with an increase of 30 percentage points over two years (2010-2012). From a historical perspective, there are great similarities between the spreading curves of digital technology and analogue television, which over two years (1959-1961) had a spread of 35 percentage points. (Findahl, 1999)

We do not know what will happen with the spread of smartphones and tablets after the rapid growth during the primary course of events, but as we have already noted, the secondary spreading process in terms of the internet is still ongoing 14 years after the rate peaked in 1999.



Diagram 2.13. Number of those who have access to a smartphone who download apps. Show as table Download

How are the smartphone and tablet used?

In last year’s survey, we found that the most common thing that people do with their smartphones is to check e-mail and visit their social network. It was these activities that dominated the daily use of many smartphone users.

This year, we asked questions about apps. The first question we asked was how often one downloads new apps. The answer was that almost all who use a smartphone do it at least sometimes, over 90 percent (95%) among the young and around 80 percent (78%) among the elderly. The app culture thus covers even the oldest users of smartphones. It is important to remember that the majority of pensioners do not use smartphones, but those who do are downloading apps just as users in general.

Young people most frequently download new apps. 16 percent do this at least once a week. The frequency decreases with age.

The second question asked which apps one has downloaded and used the most. There are currently thousands of apps and some of them may be deemed more valuable but only used occasionally. The question was not regarding the most valuable, or the best, but the most used. Five choices were allowed and the result is reported in diagram 2.14. The first three are reported in diagram 2.15.



Diagram 2.14. Number of those who sometimes download apps who name different apps as the most used (5 proposals allowed). Show as table Download

App for Facebook is the most used

E-mail is already installed in most mobile phones, so it was not included. But the Facebook app is available and without question, it got the most votes at 43 percent. Then came a banking app (27%), which many think is practical. Then came a newspaper app for checking news (23%), and a weather app (21%). Gaming apps are also common (23%).

In addition to Facebook, there are also other social networks. Many have an app for Instagram (18%), and some mentioned Twitter (3%). Among media apps, the most used were news apps (25%), then music with Spotify (14%), TV (8%), radio (3%) and YouTube (2%).

Travel help with timetables (13%), or the evening’s TV guide (7%) are also apps that were mentioned and industrious visitors to certain websites downloaded apps for Hemnet (4%) and Blocket (7%).


How is the tablet mainly used?

98 percent of all who use the internet have access to a computer. And as found in last year’s report (Findahl, Soi 2013) the computer is used at least as much as the mobile phone and the tablet, also among those who use those several times a day.

The tablet is currently used in the same way as in 2011, even though there were only 5 percent who used a tablet. The iPad was then completely dominant. Surfing around, playing games, reading and watching film/video were the dominant activities. (Findahl, Soi 2011) The pattern is the same today.


Diagram 2.15. Number of users who do different things on tablets and smartphones. Open answer (3 proposals permitted). Show as table Download

What do people do with their tablet?

The most common use of the tablet is to search and surf around the internet (37%) and to read, mostly the news (31%). Then comes watching TV, film or video (25%) and playing games (25%). Almost as common was the predominant use of visits to social networks (22%) and to read or send e-mail (21%). Some play with children or grandchildren. For some, the tablet is ”mostly lying around.”

We can now compare how the smartphone is used with the usage of the tablet. Surfing around, reading, playing games, watching movies or video are activities that dominate the use of the tablet. Facebook, Instagram, music, banking, news/weather, and for example, travel help are activities that are more common on the mobile phone and uncommon on the tablet. 70 percent of daily users of smartphones check their e-mail (Soi 2013), compared to 21 percent of those who use tablets.


Publishing your location

There are constantly new ways to use a mobile phone when new services are launched. One such possibility is that with the use of the gps function, you can publish your location. There are a number of services with this, such as Foursquare and Instagram.

In 2011, one in four (24%) who used a smartphone also used this feature, which represents 9 percent of the population. Today the number is one in three (37%), which represents 25 percent of the population, since many people use smartphones today. From 9 percent of the population sometimes publishing their location, it is now 25% who do.

In 2011, it was the older youth (16–25) who were most active at publishing their position. Today, it is the younger, 12-15 years, who are the most active at publishing their position. Half (57%) do this sometimes and a third (31%) at least once a week. Here, it is also the girls who are the most active: 23 percent of female smartphone users (12-15) publish their position daily, 66 percent sometimes.


Health and exercise apps

Today, there are also different health and exercise apps as well as small gadgets that can measure and register on the internet what one does, for example, pulse, steps, or how long one runs. Almost a third (29%) of internet users have acquired something like this. Young women are the most active at using health and exercise apps, many more than young men. Half of the young women in the age of 16-35 have this type of app.

How many people have a health or exercise app?

12-15 yrs 16-25 yrs 26-35 yrs 36-45 yrs 46-55 yrs
Men 9% 29% 41% 40% 32%
Women 26% 48% 51% 41% 29%
Total 18% 37% 45% 41% 30%

Table 2.2. Number of men and women internet users in different ages that have health – exercise apps.


Mobile Bank-ID

During recent years, many more banks and government agencies have opened the opportunity for identification with a mobile bank ID. This has quickly become popular in all ages and today half (48%) of mobile phone users use this opportunity. Identification via mobile phone is used the most in the ages of 16 to 35 years (59%).


Mobile payment services

To tap in a five-digit number, beginning with 7, on a mobile phone was previously a common way to pay for a ticket on public transportation. In 2012, a quarter (24%) of the population paid by SMS which was then charged on the mobile phone bill. (Findahl, Soi 2012)

In the beginning of 2013, new rules were introduced and users reduced their payments by SMS. Instead, app based services have arrived. 19 percent of the population now uses the payment service Swish and trust in payment apps is largest among the young (16–29).

It is also possible to pay with a QR-code that one can scan with the mobile phone. Use, however, is very limited. Less than one percent takes advantage of this possibility (Sverige betalar, 2014).