If you think smartphones have become addictive, you're right. A new report from the Bank of America shows that nearly half of U.S. consumers can't go a day without their smartphone.
In fact, many of the respondents said their smartphones were even more important than two previous icons of consumer addiction, coffee (60 percent) and TV (76 percent).
The bank also reported that the number of monthly mobile bank log-ins recently passed the desktop online banking log-ins for the first time. Nevertheless, visits to bank branches are still high, with 84 percent of respondents saying they've been to a branch in the last six months.
Look Out, Personal Hygiene
The percentage of branch visitors is high among all age groups, suggesting that, even as mobile banking becomes more common, the need for bank branches will likely remain. But the role of branches is changing, as only slightly less than one-quarter of respondents reported that they do most of their banking at a branch. Forty-seven percent primarily use mobile or online banking.
Marc Warshawsky, senior vice president at Bank of America, said in a statement that his bank "now has more than 15 million active mobile banking users who access their accounts on a mobile device over 165 million times per month."
In a blow to the prospects of personal hygiene of future generations, 96 percent of millennials ages 18 to 24 see their mobile phones as being very important, compared with only 90 percent who feel the same way about deodorant and 93 percent about their toothbrush. Of course, if they interact with friends, relatives and acquaintances primarily through their smartphone, they may receive little feedback about their hygiene.
For banking applications, the report found that nearly a third -- 31 percent -- log on to their bank accounts at least once daily, and 82 percent access their bank accounts at least once weekly.
Two-thirds of consumers have tried mobile banking at least once. The most common mobile banking activities are checking account balances, transferring money, paying bills and depositing checks by taking a picture of it. Fifty-eight percent report they have tried mobile check depositing, which is a relatively new service, and almost 40 percent say they use it often.
'100 Times a Day'
Other findings included the nugget that only 7 percent believe checking a smartphone during a meal with others is annoying. If a phone is lost or stolen, 79 percent were concerned about the loss of personal contacts, and the same percentage were concerned about the loss of identity or security information.
Ross Rubin, principal analyst for industry research firm Reticle Research, told us that, at the recent Google I/O conference, a presentation about wearables noted that "the average consumer looks at or unlocks their phone more than 100 times a day."
Could smartphones be replaced by wearables, as other technologies -- record players and standalone answering machines, for instance -- have been replaced by successor machines?
Rubin said he expected that, just as smartphones offered capabilities that made them different from laptops -- mobile GPS and cameras, for instance -- so wearables will provide health/fitness sensoring and other features that will make them distinct.