Pew: 26% of US adults who earn under $30K/year are 'smartphone only' internet users

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Americans who are poor increasingly use mobile phones as their primary way to go online.


Pew: 26% of US adults who earn under $30K/year are ‘smartphone only’ internet users

The lost potential is staggering, plus keeping people poor is getting old.


This seems like it will be unfortunately fertile ground for the “inequality isn’t a big deal because even filthy poors can afford gizmos that have gotten cheaper even faster than they’ve gotten poorer!” contrarian optimist types.

Given his position on gains from technology I’m guessing that everyone’s favorite venture capitalist eggman would see this as excellent news.

Why focus on depressing minutiae of the overwhelmingly different(and overwhelmingly inferior) experience of someone who lacks a real computer to fall back on and squints at the internet through a haze of app stores and shit Android ROMs when you can just declare the so-called ‘digital divide’ to have been decisively refuted by the fact that it’s the poors who are, um, on the cutting edge of mobile-centric trends and the post-PC revolution(Also, this clearly implies that subsidizing promises of 5G buildout is now objectively good for poor people, not just Verizon)?


People who are poor don’t want to have a dedicated internet connection AND a computer at home?
I’m SHOCKED I tell you.


And yet, most websites are now ignoring their laptop customers and optimizing content display for phones. INCLUDING THIS ONE


This also increases the gulf between the wealthy and poor in terms of being able to create vs. simply consuming. Except for making videos and images that might win the viral content lottery it’s very difficult to do things like code or do animation or video editing or such on a smartphone compared to a laptop or desktop.

As with having a lot of books in the house did in the past, having a full computer gives a young person the tools to achieve a chance at upward mobility.


I’m definitely not a pedagogical expert; but my understanding is that reports are…other than uniformly positive on the potential for computer access to exacerbate, rather than narrow, gaps in educational outcomes; so I can only suspect that things look even better when the comparison isn’t computers-to-computers but computers-to-phones; given the limitations of phones for more involved tasks.

On the plus side, a dystopian future where software is eating the world (and the lower rungs of the job market); while the poor are increasingly relegated to devices that are not only massively inconvenient for writing software but which actively refuse to execute unauthorized code, while access to general purpose computers is a prized aspect of the training of the middle class remnants, could yield some good quality cyberpunk with the right handling. So there is that.


I have unlimited data with sprint and a fully paid off phone. It’s about 60 bucks a month. It was 90 a month while I was making payments on the phone. Without the unlimited data I’d need some broadband at home - which I have anyway because I use it for work on my computer. I got the most basic broadband and it’s about 55 a month.

Not sure why I’m saying all this except to point out you kinda need either broadband at home or unlimited data if your phone is your primary internet source. Considering getting both will set you back at about 120 a month it’s no wonder people would skip on the broadband.


It’s a useful counterpoint when you see people rage on about seeing obviously poor people with smartphones. Because for folks who have desktops or laptops, smartphones are just a distracting luxury item. For others, it’s a critical lifeline to do all the things you need to function in a modern first world society.


As others said: Terrible plans with limited minutes, no way to code easily, I’ll add to the list: Only being able to afford cheaper phones full of almost impossible to remove bloatware, which ends up filling up your phone even if you don’t install a lot of apps (which they’ll need to do because this is their only computer), so: built in obselence.


The good news; 74% of adults who earn under $30K/year are not ‘smartphone only’ internet users. Maybe they use a friend’s PC? Or go to the library? Or use a computer @ work? Maybe they don’t want to own a PC or laptop?

People, even poor people, are smart. They make decisions that fill their needs.

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It’s an awful time to be in the business of selling home broadband service to consumers.

Selling crap HFC for more than what gigabit (or ten) symmetric fiber costs in a country with first-world infrastructure? Seems like they’re in a pretty good business to me, unless you mean ethically.

What this doesn’t take into account is those who have other devices and just use their phone as a hotspot. The majority of people I know without highspeed at home do have laptops and tablets sharing the phone’s internet. As phones get faster connections this trend will only continue.

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Or at least make decisions to prioritize as many of their needs as they can afford.

Obviously a richer person has the freedom to make choices that meet many more of their needs, from healthcare to transportation to housing.


If you aren’t into coding, pc gaming, or some sort of professional who uses a desktop or laptop regularly, what’s the big deal about only using a phone for internet? I know a few people who have laptops who never use them anymore because they do all their email, web browsing, video watching and social media on their phones… if you’re that sort of person why would you care about having broadband at home?

In fact I sorta get the feeling a lot of those people who still have broadband use it mainly for streaming Netflix/Hulu/amazon etc…

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Ever try editing your resume on a cell phone and trying to submit it to a potential employer? Or trying to write a research paper for school with all the references only available on the internet. Not fun I can tell you. This is why community libraries and schools with computer lab open decent hours with computers is invaluable.

One can get by with just a cell phone, but to get ahead one needs a better interface with the internet than what a cheep smart phone can give you.


Many of these providers ask for exceptions like zero rating to net neutrality (not charging access to big corps against bandwidth limits) or otherwise sidestep because they’re not “real” isps

We should push back on such measures as racist with disproportionate impact on the poor and people from underrepresented groups.

I have never had issues with BB on laptop and I have a lot of privacy extensions, a vpn etc.

If you can reproduce an issue the team will probably work with you.

If @orenwolf or @codinghorror can’t solve your issue I’m happy to DM you about my setup (I don’t work for BB I just have years of experience solving weird issues caused by my metric assload of Firefox extensions)

In what world is any part of this true for Boing Boing or the BBS?

If there was an “ignore non-mobile-use-cases” directive somewhere, I missed it.

Speaking as someone who routinely uses both desktop and mobile for both sites.

More on-topic: Mobile sites, even the best ones (like Discourse!) still suck. Some (like Discourse) suck less now with a lot of effort on the parts of developers, but nearly every one of them has some feature or option that is only available (or usable) on the desktop.

I shudder at the thought of the situation mobile-only users find themselves in online for all but the simplest web browsing.


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