Reports from Nielsen Online reveal that the number of people accessing the Web through their mobile handsets is growing fast. Not only is mobile Internet usage growing fast, but it also is growing at a rate that is much faster than that of Internet access from desktops.
According to Nielsen, mobile Internet use has grown from 5.8 million to 7.3 million between the second and third quarters of this year. This is a jump of 25% as compared to only a 3% growth in the number of users accessing the net through the PC, during the same time period.
7.3 million users represents just 12% of the total market. Many believe the number of mobile Internet users to be closer to 28%. However, the higher percentage includes one-off visitors who try the mobile Internet and never return, whereas Nielsen’s numbers could be excluding these users completely due to their research methodology.
The type of searches conducted through mobile phones are quite different from those conducted through the PC, and while Google is the most popular website used by PC users, mobile users prefer to use the following sites in order of priority:
- BBC News
- Google Search
- BBC Weather
- Windows Live / Hotmail
- BBC Sport
- Yahoo! Mail
- Sky Sports
It was found that the mobile is mostly used to for instant information needs such as news, weather, sports. Information regarding entertainment and commerce was usually sought through desktops.
Interestingly, Google Search has only 23% reach among mobile device users, compared to 79% for desktop users, according to Nielsen.
Expectedly, the reports also revealed that the average age of the mobile Internet user was less than that of the PC user. While about 25% of handset mobile users were between 15 to 24 years of age, only 16% of PC users were in that age group. On the other hand, 23% of desktop users are over 55 years of age while 12% of mobile internet users are over 55 years, which many will find surprisingly high!
Mobile Internet users access the Web about 7 times a month on an average, and each session lasts for about 10 minutes.
Speaking to the BBC, Kent Ferguson, a senior analyst at Nielsen Online, says that the sudden spurt in the mobile Internet usage is due to a variety of factors. The introduction of flat rate tariffs by mobile operators and better networks are among them.
Also, Mobile manufacturing companies have introduced more user-friendly handsets that encourage consumers to access the Internet through their mobile. Buttons for direct access to Google and other popular social networks are placed on new phones to push this further.
The mobile phone company 3 launched a Facebook phone recently that allows users to easily access the social network as well as Skype, Windows Live Messenger and Last.fm by directly integrating the service into the phone.