Dan Rowinski's Mobile Platform

By Dan Rowinski

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Feds keen on mobile devices and social apps, but some cling to the old ways

One of our Web producers at 1105 Media went to a presentation on Tuesday about the media consumption trends of federal employees and contractors. The Federal Media and Marketing Study (FMMS) was done as a survey by Market Connections and is, ostensibly, for the purpose of targeting advertising.

As I have mentioned in the Mobile Platform before, I am a big fan of media trends. How do you consume? What do you consume? What devices do you use to consume? That last question is of special interest to me, since I am the guy who writes about tablets and smart phones all the time. Are you reading the Mobile Platform on your iPad? If so, are you using mobile Safari or did you plug our RSS feed into a news application or social magazine such as Pulse, Zite or Flipboard?

The survey studied 2,600 federal civilian and defense agency employees drawn upon from a survey of subscriptions of trade publications (for instance, Federal Computer Week and Government Computer News, along with our competitors).

Since I am going crazy with bullet points and stats today, here are some results of FMMS:
  • 88 percent of respondents were 35 years old or older.
  • 26 percent were in the service of computer hardware and systems, nearly all in the technology or IT field.
  • 40 percent prefer to read trade publications in print.
  • 29 percent prefer a combination of print and online.
  • 17 percent read print, online and mobile.
  • 9 percent no preference.
  • 1 percent mobile only.
Looking at the age demographic, I don’t suppose I should be surprised. Everyone says “print is dead, print is dead, long live the iPad!” Yet, print is not dead. You know why? Because marketers like to target people with money to spend (that would be you, my middle-aged, middle-class federal friends). What are the people with money reading? Print. Why? Because that is the way it has always been for them. It seems easier just to have a subscription to the Washington Post, FCW, GCN and Politico and read them at the office than buying a tablet that will run between $500 and $800. There is nothing wrong with that. It is not the future after this round of federal employees starts to retire, but there is nothing wrong with being print-first people. I can dig it. I like the print version of Politico myself (and read it at the office).

A side note on 1105 properties – in the “IT job function” category, 50 percent read Federal Computer Week and 41 percent read Government Computer News. The next highest read publication is Federal Times, also at 41 percent.

You folks have some serious style. Thanks.

In the realm of social media, respondents were starting to get it. More bullet points:
  • 46 percent of news consumers were allowed to access social media sites, up from 20 percent last year.
  • 54 percent of those respondents use Facebook, 20 percent at least once a day.
  • 34 percent use YouTube.
  • 18 percent use LinkedIn.
  • 9 percent use Twitter.
  • 6 percent use MySpace.
  • 5 percent each for Flickr, GovLoop.
  • 2 percent use GovTwit.
Honestly, I have no idea what GovTwit is. Looks like feds don't either. Also, I figured out who is still using MySpace. I had been wondering who kept the service alive. It turns out it's the federal government. I am slightly disappointed in Twitter use, it being my favorite social ecosystem (follow me @Dan_Rowinski). It is great for news and information filtering, even if you do not actually tweet (I will leave the evangelism to founders Biz Stone and Jack Dorsey).

In the mobile communications realm, smart phones are catching on.

Here's how people said they access e-mail:
  • 64 percent with a laptop.
  • 28 percent with a BlackBerry.
  • 14 percent with an iPhone.
  • 11 percent with an Android.
As for access to news sites:
  • 53 percent with a laptop.
  • 14 percent with BlackBerry.
  • 11 percent with an iPhone.
  • 9 percent with an Android.
The Mobile Platform is in his late 20s. If you count a laptop as a “mobile” device, then yes, I am mobile only and have been so for years. Even  at the office I am almost all mobile with two laptops, an iPad, an Android smart phone and a desk phone. Yet, when I think mobile, laptops do not really count. My definition of mobile is more smart phones and tablets versus PCs, which a laptop would be.

It is not a surprise that there is a coincidental correlation between 64 percent of respondents using a laptop to check e-mail and the fact that 33 percent of respondents were 55 years old or older. The study did not break it down, but I would be curious to know how many of those 55 or older even own or are issued laptops.

More than a third (34 percent) of respondents accessed news via smart phones and more than half (53 percent) used a smart phone to access e-mail.

Rock on, federal readers. I am sure by 2015 all of you will be reading FCW and GCN on your smart devices while flying to work in your nifty hover-cars.


Posted by Dan Rowinski on Mar 31, 2011 at 12:19 PM


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