January 24, 2011, 4:00 PM

More consumers are checking their e-mail on a mobile device

Meanwhile, web-based e-mail is down nearly 6%, says comScore.

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Consumers are increasingly checking e-mail on their phones, rather than using computers to access traditional web-based e-mail sites, according to web and mobile web measurement firm comScore Inc. Even so, far more consumers check their e-mail with PCs and web browsers than on smartphones.

The number of users checking e-mail on their mobile devices rose 35.8% in November—from 51.6 million in November 2009 to 70.1 million—while traffic to web-based e-mail sites in November fell 5.9%—from 162.9 million in November 2009 to 153.4 million.

Consumers are also spending less time on web-based e-mail sites and viewing fewer pages. The amount of time consumers spent checking e-mail on web-based e-mail sites fell 9.4% and the total pages viewed dipped 14.8%. Even so, e-mail remains one of the most popular web activities, reaching more than 70 percent of the U.S. population each month, says comScore.

Internet users between 12 and 17 had the biggest drop in web-based e-mail usage—with a 24% dip in unique visitors, 48% decline in total minutes spent checking e-mail and 53% dip in total pages viewed. Consumers engagement—both in terms of total pages viewed and total time spent on e-mail—also fell among those between the ages of 18 and 54.

Those trends didn’t hold true for older consumers. The number of unique visitors to web-based e-mail sites grew 16% for consumers between 55 and 64 and 8% for those 65 and older. Moreover, those consumers increased their time spent checking e-mail and the number of pages viewed.

Smartphones are responsible for some of the decline in web-based e-mail usage, says Mark Donovan, comScore senior vice president of mobile.

“What we have seen in the smartphone era is the rapid acceleration of data consumption, which has helped drive mobile usage across multiple categories including e-mail,” he says. Consumers are increasingly checking e-mail on their smartphones. In November 43.5 million mobile users accessed e-mail on a mobile device almost every day, a 39.4% jump from 31.2 million a year ago.

Accessing mobile e-mail grew by double-digits across all age segments—but growth was particularly pronounced among consumers ages 25 to 34, who were 60% more likely to access e-mail than an average mobile user. Consumers 18 to 24 were 46% more likely to do so.

“These findings demonstrate how quickly channel shifts can occur, and why it’s now essential for media brands to have a strong presence in both arenas,” says Donovan.     

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