When many people think of surfing the Web when they are away from their home or office, they picture someone using a laptop. But an increasing number of people worldwide are exchanging email and checking out websites from a smartphone or cellular-wireless handheld.
In fact, accessing the Internet with a mobile phone actually outpaces wireless access from a notebook PC in many of areas of the world — a statistic driven largely by the massive install base of mobile phones throughout the world as well as more developed wireless networks, according to The Face of the Web, the annual study of Internet trends by market research firm Ipsos Insight.
Japan leads the world in this area, with 40 percent of the population using a mobile device to browse the Web for news and information. In the United States, 26 percent of the population has done this.
Interestingly, much of the growth in the use of the mobile Internet last year was driven by older users (age 35+), showing that browsing the Web on a mobile phone is emerging as a mainstream activity, no longer dominated by the traditional early adopter segment, young males.
Not Necessarily a Global Phenomena
But people shouldn’t consider pitching out their notebook quite yet.
While use of the mobile Internet grew about 3 percent last year worldwide, the lion’s share of this growth is happening in Asia and Europe. According to the Ipsos Insight report, growth in Internet browsing on a mobile phone is flattening in other leading markets, such as the U.S. and Canada, where wireless Internet access with a notebook computer appears to be emerging as the preferred out-of-home Internet platform.
Getting More Useful
In its report, Ipsos Insight analysts even goes so far as to say that mobile phones are poised to become a dominant Internet platform outside the home. “In the long term, many of today’s PC-centric online activities could be complemented through the mobile phone or migrate to the mobile phone altogether, due to greater convenience and faster connection speeds,” added Brian Cruikshank, Senior Vice President & Managing Director of Ipsos Insight’s Technology & Communications practice.
The research firm also predicts that as consumer use of mobile phones grows, so to will new applications.