Join Insights West's Feedback Community to participate in meaningful research like this!Join


Nearly two-thirds (64%) of British Columbian adults now own a smartphone and are using their device an average of nearly two hours every day on a wide variety of activities. 18% of owners consider themselves addicted to their device.

Vancouver, BC – Together with iamota (a mobile agency), Insights West recently completed its Smartphone Insights Report with data from an online poll of 849 British Columbian adults about the use and role of smartphones in our daily lives. The report finds that nearly two-thirds of British Columbian adults (64%) own a smartphone, a number that jumps to 86% among 18-34 year olds. Ownership has now surpassed PVRs (52%) and MP3 players (55%), and is nearly as high as landline telephones (71%).

Results demonstrate that smartphones, smartphone activities and apps are relied on heavily by users. On average, smartphone owners report using their smartphone 1.7 hours every day. In fact, almost one-in-five owners (18%) confess to being addicted to their smartphone and over one-third of smartphone owners (35%) say it is important for them to have the latest smartphone.

In many instances, smartphones are people’s go-to device and play a vital role in social media use, particularly Twitter. Mobile purchases are being made by half of all smartphone owners as they pay for such things as parking, coffee and movie tickets. There is great interest and desire to use their smartphone for more purchases in the future.

Smartphones are used often, for many activities, and frequently instead of other devices and media. Some key facts that show how pervasive smartphones are in our lives:

  • On average, smartphone owners actively spend 1.7 hours using their device each day; 59% spend at least 1 hour a day (7 hours/week).
  • Most (62%) check their smartphone at least hourly; a compulsive 6% check more often than every 10 minutes.
  • 62% access social media at least weekly with their smartphone.
    • Use is particularly high for Twitter where 54% use their smartphone more than any other device to access Twitter (34% use a computer most and 11% a tablet).
    • For Facebook, 36% use their smartphone most often (54% most often use a computer, 10% a tablet).
  • Smartphone owners have embraced apps and most have many apps on their smartphones; 97% have at least one, and 27 is the average number reported.
  •  Smartphone penetration is poised to grow even further, as 22% of other non- smartphone owners have plans to upgrade to a smartphone within the next 12 months.


Smartphone owners are dedicated, with many even addicted, to their devices.

Beyond what the compelling usage statistics already demonstrate, attitudes confirm how attached smartphone owners are to their devices:

  • 18% consider themselves “addicted” to their smartphone (3% an “unhealthy addiction” and 15% “a strong addiction, but manageable”), and another 43% consider it very important to their lives.
  •  Among 18-34 year olds, the addiction rate rises to 27% (compared to 17% of those 35-54 and just 3% of those 55).
  •  In an average week, these self-described addicts spend 2.5 hours a day actively using their smartphone (compared to 1.6 hours for those not addicted) and half (51%) check their smartphone at least once every half an hour (compared to just 24% of those not addicted).
  •  If they left home for the day without their smartphone, nearly all smartphone owners (76%) would return home to retrieve it – 31% would travel 10 or more minutes to do so.
  •  Smartphone users were asked to choose hypothetically between giving up their smartphone for three days, or from a series of other small sacrifices instead. Only 30% chose to “lose” their smartphone. A majority (56%) would prefer to give up Facebook for three days, and 17% would prefer to get stood up on a date.
    • Only 18% of younger (18-34 years of age) smartphone users would give up their device (compared to 26% of 35-54 year old smartphone owners and 57% of 55 years +). 70% would rather give up Facebook, 25% computer Internet, and 25% get stood up for a date.

Mobile purchases appear to be gaining traction and can be expected to increase. Half of smartphone owners have paid for something via their smartphone and there is high interest in doing more in the future, specifically:

  • Half (50%) have made a purchase of some kind directly through their smartphone, most often (40%) using an app.
  • Among purchasers, 34% have used an app that has an authorized connection to their credit card.
  • Some purchases we tested: 18% paid for parking in the past 3 months, 15% made a purchase from Starbucks or other coffee shop, and 14% bought movie tickets directly through their device.
  • More than a quarter (28%) are likely to make a purchase using their smartphone in the next three months and another 15% might or might not.
  • 40% look forward to a day when they can make more purchases directly through their smartphone.
  • Smartphones are also heavily used in the shopping process: 69% research products/ services at least monthly and 65% search for nearby retail stores/services.

“What amazes me about these findings is the overall pervasiveness of these relatively new devices in nearly every aspect of our lives,” says Steve Mossop, President of Insights West. “When we look at the number of hours/minutes people spend on their mobile phone, it’s no wonder marketers are clamouring for ways of reaching their target audiences via mobile.”

“With this fundamental and rapid change in how consumers are connecting with brands across all device types, including smartphones, businesses and brands need to undertake some equally fundamental changes to keep pace with consumers,” says Pete Smyth, CEO of iamota. “Brands need to shift from doing mobile to disrupting and differentiating with mobile.”

About iamota:

iamota is a mobile agency made up of a team of mobile experience experts based in Yaletown, Vancouver. iamota has been focused on digital for 18 years and dedicated to mobile for the past 9 years. That’s 3 years before the iPhone and all the mobile hype.

They have earned the opportunity to help great marketers and brands deliver valuable mobile experiences. iamota has a strong and long-term client roster in professional sports (NHL, CFL & MLB), gaming, telecom, resorts & CPG, where they connect millions of mobile fans and consumers with leading brands every month.

iamota’s core philosophy is that “it all starts with making our clients’ lives easier.”

About Insights West:

Insights West is a progressive, Western-based, full-service marketing research company. It exists to serve the market with insights-driven research solutions and interpretive analysis through leading-edge tools, normative databases, and senior-level expertise across a broad range of public and private sector organizations. Insights West is based in Vancouver and Calgary and has ten full-time and five part-time employees.

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted from June 1 – 4, 2013, among 849 residents of BC, who are aged 18+ and Your Insights panel members; of these, 540 are smartphone owners. is Insights West’s in-house access panel offering on-demand samples for both clients and research suppliers looking for Western Canadian populations. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for BC for age, gender and region. While statistical margins of error are arguably not applicable to online panels/online studies of this nature, we have assumed that the same margins of error apply as if it were a true unweighted random probability sample with a margin of error of +/- 3.4% percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty for the entire sample and +/- 4.2 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty for the subsample of smartphone owners. To view the detailed data tabulations, click here.


For further information, please contact:

Steve Mossop
President, Insights West

Pete Smyth
CEO, iamota