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Yesterday, Forrester Research, a marketing firm based in Cambridge, Mass, released the results of its annual survey of consumers and technology. This year’s report analyzed consumers’ adoption of digital technology based on a mail survey of almost 48,000 respondents from the U.S. and Canada.

The report underscored what most families – and savvy tech marketers – have known for some time: tech has gone mainstream and the gap between tech enthusiasts (or “early adopters” as they are sometimes called) and the rest of us has all but disappeared. “There’s really no group out of the tech loop,” said Jacqueline Anderson, one of the study’s authors. “Technology adoption continues to roll along, picking up more mainstream consumers every year.”

According to the study, half of all American adults are gamers, 63% of all American households have a broadband Internet connection, and nearly 10 million households added an HDTV last year, a jump of 27% over 2007. Forrester expects as many as 39 million households will get their first taste of high-definition programming over the next five years, bringing market penetration close to 70%.

Four out of five U.S. households now have a mobile phone and 8% of all consumers own a smartphone. Altogether, about 15% of cellphone owners used their phones to connect to the Internet in some way in 2008, and the report stressed that for a growing number of Americans there is an expectation that the same web-based services and resources should be available to us no matter where we are.

In a change from previous reports, Forrester this year also segmented data by “lifestage”, looking at young singles and couples, young families, older families, and older singles and couples. To no-one’s surprise, young singles and couples are the most connected to the Internet and are more likely to go online in places other than home or work.

Young families appear to be the heaviest tech adopters, with a staggering 93% owning some kind of DVD player, 76% having some type of game console at home, and 39% owning a home theater system. Families with older children have the most digitally connected homes, while, perhaps surprisingly, older consumers lead the way in overall online spending.

“The Internet pervades all aspects of Americans’ lives, from how we shop and buy, how we communicate, how we entertain ourselves, and how we seek out information to how we manage our personal relationships,” said principal analyst and co-author Charles Golvin.
    
 



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