Mobile phones may soon rival the PC as the dominant Internet platform in some markets, according to a study on Internet usage by marketing research firm Ipsos Insight.
While the personal computer remains the dominant platform to access the Internet globally, access via mobile phones outpaces access from wireless notebook PCs in many parts of the world. As a result, some market segments are increasingly utilizing their cell phones to surf the Web. In Japan, for instance, four in 10 adults used their mobile phones to access the Internet in 2005—double the rate from 2003.
The study, "The Face of the Web 2005," was conducted in November and December 2005 among 6544 adults in urban Brazil, Canada, urban China, France, Germany, urban India, Japan, urban Mexico, urban Russia, South Korea, the U.K., and the U.S. It tracked global Internet usage, Internet access and connectivity, wired and wireless Internet activities, household technology ownership, and overall Internet growth.
Globally, Internet access via cellular phones is just 28 percent. But Ipsos Insight senior research manager Adam Wright said the marked increase of a number of mobile phone activities indicates to him that certain behaviors may soon be connected to cell phones. Over half (52%) of participants surveyed said they have sent or received a text message, while over a third (37%) have sent or received an e-mail on a mobile phone.
"When the activity is enhanced by mobility or the convenience of being anywhere anytime and being able to connect to the Internet, those are the activities that we could see transition from PC-based activity to a phone-based activity," Wright said. "\[In terms of downloading music, you could potentially\] take that behavior and have that driven more on the handset…just because (with music fans) when they hear the song it’s more of an instantaneous media to consumer. So I see the handset enhancing someone’s experience in terms of downloading music."
Wright said that Japan leads the world in Internet savviness and behaviors. But he said there are a number of geographical markets where cellular phones are increasingly being used to access the Internet simply because they are more accessible and cheaper than purchasing a PC and hooking it up to the Web.
"A lot of these devices don’t even work unless you have access to the Internet," Wright said. "\[So when we talk about behaviors like\] downloading legal content, you can’t do that without a high-speed Internet connection." And this is the way people access the Web in many parts of the world.