Mobile Phones Will Rival the PC as Internet Platform
Apr 18, 2006
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The personal computer is still the dominant platform for accessing the Internet globally, but that could change. Internet access via the mobile phone may outpace wireless access from a notebook PC in many parts of the world, driven by the massive installed base of mobile phones and more developed wireless networks worldwide. The predictions come from the annual The Face of the Web report on Internet trends from New York-based market research firm Ipsos Insight.

Internet browsing on wireless devices shows robust growth in many global markets, with France and the United Kingdom showing the strongest growth. Growth is also rapid in Japan, where four in 10 adults browse the Internet on wireless handsets, double the 2003 rate.

However, 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 via notebook PC appears to be emerging as the stronger out-of-home Internet platform.

Mobile Phone Surfing No Longer A Novelty
Globally, 28 percent of mobile phone owners worldwide have browsed the Internet on a wireless handset in 2005, up slightly from 25 percent at the end 2004. Ipsos Insight says growth was driven by users over 35, indicating this is now a mainstream activity and no longer dominated by the young males that are the traditional early adopters.

"Accessing the Internet on a wireless handheld device is no longer a novelty for consumers in the major global economies," noted Brian Cruikshank, senior vice president and managing director of Ipsos Insight’s Technology & Communications practice. "It's becoming a common, everyday occurrence for many people."

As consumer dependence on mobile phones grows, so too will phone applications.

“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,” Cruikshank said.

What Users Do Online

In addition to web-browsing, the study says a number of mobile phone activities witnessed significant growth in 2005. Text messaging remains the most popular activity among consumers: 52 percent of all mobile phone households have sent or received a text message and 37 percent have sent or received e-mail on a mobile phone.

Almost all wireless device activities experienced growth in 2005, including:

  • m-commerce (purchasing a product or service via mobile phone)
  • conducting financial transactions
  • sending or receiving digital pictures
  • downloading entertainment content

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