June 26, 2014, 3:06 PM

Wearable mobile device owners are smartphone power users

Between late 2013 and early 2014, there was a surge in the use of Android wearable devices—from smartwatches to fitness trackers. It turns out, wearable device owners use their smartphones for all kinds of activities far more than the average smartphone user, Nielsen finds.

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Wearable devices are the Next Big Thing in mobility. Consumers are starting to take an interest in smartwatches, especially with all the talk about an iWatch from Apple Inc. by year’s end. And fitness enthusiasts are starting to make use of all kinds of wearable computing devices that track a person’s health, vitals and progress.

For the most part, wearable devices require a link to a smartphone and a related app to achieve their full potential. That link is most often made via Bluetooth wireless networking technology, which is present on virtually every smartphone made.

Research giant Nielsen says in February 2014, 2.5 million Android smartphone owners also owned a wearable device, and they used their wearables on average 14 times a month. 60% of these wearables are fitness trackers, 25% smartwatches, 8% m-health devices and 7% other types of devices, Nielsen says.

Increased use of fitness and m-health wearables has increased use of fitness apps. In February 2014, Fitbit (1.6 million unique users), Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal (429,000) and Nexercise (340,000) were the top three health and fitness apps among users of wearable mobile devices.

Notably, Nielsen finds that Android wearable device owners make far more use of their Android smartphones for all kinds of mobile activities compared with the average Android smartphone owner. Following are smartphone activities, the amount of time Android smartphone owners who also own an Android wearable spend per month on that activity (in hours and minutes), and the amount of time all Android smartphone owners spend on that activity, according to Nielsen:

  • Mobile web browsing, 12:22, 9:27.
  • Social networking, 11:27, 3:56.
  • Text messaging, 6:33, 1:04.
  • E-mail and instant messaging, 4:32, 3:04.
  • Phone, 4:23, 3:55.
  • Maps, 2:32, 0:40.
  • Music and video, 3:03, 10:44.
  • Camera, 0:41, 7:15.

“Wearable device users’ constant connectedness is also visible by their overall data service and Wi-Fi usage,” Nielsen writes in a blog post. “The average Android user is using 5.61 gigabytes of data a month, while the average wearable Bluetooth device user is using nearly twice as much data, 9.49 gigabytes. In addition, the average data volume per person on Wi-Fi networks for wearable users is 74% higher than all Android users.”

The Nielsen data comes from a panel of 5,000 U.S. adult Android smartphone users who have Nielsen’s electronic mobile measurement software installed on their smartphones.

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