May 1, 2012, 5:34 PM

Consumers will soon open most e-mail on mobile devices

Mobile e-mail will reign this year, a new study predicts.

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By the end of the year, more consumers will be checking e-mail while standing on the subway or waiting at the doctor’s office than from the PCs at their homes or offices, new research predicts.

U.S. consumers will check more e-mail from their mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) than from traditional computers by the end of this year, according to e-mail certification provider Return Path Inc. Currently, around 30% of e-mails are opened on mobile devices, Return Path says.

“The future of computing is mobile,” says Matt Blumberg, CEO at Return Path. “Our data clearly show the trend for e-mail consumption: more and more people are using smartphones and tablets and moving away from PCs and desktop.”

Return Path examined data from nearly 500 of its clients between October 2011 and March 2012, analyzing more than 1 billion e-mail data points using its Campaign Insight tool, which tracks the platforms and e-mail software programs consumers use to read e-mail.

The number of e-mails opened on mobile devices grew 82.4% in March compared to a year earlier, Return Path says.  Apple Inc. devices currently account for 85% of all e-mail opened with mobile devices and the amount of e-mail read on the iPad specifically increased 53.6% March over March.

Checking e-mail is a top mobile Internet activity, according to Return Path. If all U.S. mobile Internet use was condensed into an hour, 25 minutes of it would be spent on e-mail, the vendor says.

When it comes to smartphones, format matters a lot, according to the research. 63% of U.S. and 41% of European smartphone users say they would delete an e-mail not optimized for their mobile device. Additionally, out of all mobile e-mail openers, only 2.39% said they would open an e-mail on both their mobile device and computer.

What’s more, mobile marketing e-mails do seem to make an impact. 63% of U.S. consumers who have made a purchase via their smartphone have done so in response to a marketing message delivered via mobile e-mail, according to research from e-mail distribution vendor ExactTarget included in the Return Path findings.

50% of all mobile phones in the U.S. are smartphones, compared to 38% in the U.K., 34% in Germany and 30% in Brazil, the report says.

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