Mobile designs must take into account how young people –tomorrow’s mainstream news and media consumers– use their devices today and accommodate these behaviors. Providers should expect potentially rapid shifts in user behavior in the future, and be ready to adjust accordingly.
– Jenny Dean, Digital Media Test Kitchen, CU-Boulder
A trip to any US college campus will confirm that the majority of college students rely on their mobile phones. And smartphones are gaining undisputed momentum as studies show that 53% of college students now own smartphones, while 47% own feature phones.  As students start to use their smartphones more, it is important to learn about their behavior and preferences to indicate future mobile developments.
Within the vast smartphone market boasting over 70 different models, college students only use a limited variety of smartphones. Apple’s iPhone holds the largest polarity covering 40% of college students, while Blackberry phones stay close with 36%. Android-operating systems hold a very successful and rapidly growing 22%. Windows and Palm phones cover the remaining 12%. It’s obvious that with the burst of technological developments these figures will shift for all smartphone users, but it remains key to know which systems operate with popularity. A new means of reaching the college student demographic is available, as the smartphone epidemic opens a singular and efficient B2C stream for businesses.
We now know roughly how much of the college student population are on smartphones, but what are they using their phones for? Email and text messaging are still the top 2 uses of smartphones as 93% of college students do the two on a regular basis, but with the boom of the social media revolution, uses have extended out far past them. Recently, social media realms have been a powerful tool in reaching a large audience quickly. News from all over the world reach followers and friends compounding views as the communication branch grows exponentially. College students have been using their smartphones to stay connected on these platforms and follow the news. A surprising 77% of college students claim to use their smartphones to read news via Twitter, Facebook, Skype, etc. Good and bad news spreads fast. If you have something important to share with college students, do away with pestering phone calls, mail, and messages. Simply share it on the web, and they have shown to find it on their own, and very quickly.
Now we have the content to provide, and are ready to format the news on a social media network, but when is the best time to reach the college smartphone crowd? Students are using their smartphones all the time, but survey shows some interesting ways businesses can target this demographic. On a regular basis, 93% of students their smartphones during transit on a bus, train, or car. 82% use it for school related tasks. And 77% use it before they go to bed, and 72% use it as they wake up.  By examining the most frequent situations where students use their phones, providers can now publish their short-form news content accordingly. In the early morning, and late evening as students wake up and commute –then vise versa—is one optimal time to reach this crowd. Another way would be to imbed school related topics into content, as they use their phones to do daily school tasks.
It is impossible to fully understand the mentally and trend of college student and their off-pattern tendencies. But the facts are real, college students are expanding the smartphone market in ways few groups can. If you want to tap into this educated demographic, make your message mobile friendly, short-form the news, and time its deployment accordingly.