According to the Pew Internet Project, one third of American adults -- 35% -- own smartphones. Its report also found that 87% of smartphone owners gain access to the Internet or email on their handheld, including two-thirds (68%) who do so on a typical day.What does this mean for the mobile enterprise? We’re so glad you asked.

Ready or Not?

Consumers have adapted to a mobile landscape sooner than most companies probably anticipated. When asked what device they normally use to gain access to the Internet, 25% of smartphone owners say that they mostly go online using their phone, rather than with a computer. If you asked many executives the same question, I’m not sure the answer would be the same. And there lies the challenge. Will companies see these results as a mobile wake-up call and give consumers what they want?

If those numbers didn’t do it, let’s try these.

Knowledge Networks and MediaPost Communications surveyed teen and adult social media users for “The Faces of Social Media” study and found that, in May 2011, 40% of respondents gained access to social media via their mobile phones. This was an increase from 28% who reported doing the same in September 2010.

As well, of those using social media, 37% trust what their friends and family members say about a brand or product on social media, compared with only 10% who trust what people they don’t know say. If your company doesn’t make an attempt to reach out and touch someone online, you’re losing out on potential connections.

More than a Phone, Not Quite a DVD Player

If indeed, the smartphone is changing the behaviors of users and replacing what used to be basic functionality of the laptop or desktop computer, would it be safe to assume that the one device replaces another entirely?

Learning Opportunities

The folks at Prosper Mobile Insights wondered the same thing, and in a recent report, revealed how people are using more adaptable devices to replace more specialized technologies.

According to its research, the following shows how many respondents have replaced specific devices by a smartphone or tablet:

  • Alarm clock: 61.1%
  • GPS: 52.3%
  • Digital camera: 44.3%
  • Personal planner: 41.6%
  • Landline phone: 40.3%
  • MP3 player: 37.6%
  • Video camera: 34.2%
  • Newspaper: 28.2%
  • Radio: 27.5%
  • Desktop/Laptop computer: 24.2%
  • Gaming device: 20.8%
  • Books: 20.1%
  • Internet service at home: 19.5%
  • DVD player: 14.1%

The survey also highlighted users' comfort with purchasing from their mobile devices. Of those surveyed, 33.6% felt "very comfortable" using a smartphone or tablet device to pay for a transaction at a store check-out counter. 24% said they felt somewhat comfortable.

Bottom line: Mobile is the future of customer engagement. Whether it's social media, web browsing or completing purchases in real time, smartphones aren't just convenient, they are proving just as functional as the technologies we once relied upon.