Search Is Driving Mobile Web Growth In The U.S. - InformationWeek

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6/5/2007
04:30 PM
Stephen Wellman
Stephen Wellman
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Search Is Driving Mobile Web Growth In The U.S.

Use of the mobile Web in the U.S. continues to grow, despite all the criticisms from bloggers and wireless insiders. According to the latest findings, the U.S. is now second only to the U.K. in terms of mobile Web use. What's driving all this growth?

Use of the mobile Web in the U.S. continues to grow, despite all the criticisms from bloggers and wireless insiders. According to the latest findings, the U.S. is now second only to the U.K. in terms of mobile Web use. What's driving all this growth?According to Bango (the company that released the findings -- yes, I know they're a mobile content vendor, but bear with me), it's mobile search. So much for mobile search being an emerging category. Here is a recap of Bango's findings*:

The top five countries accessing the mobile web via Bango in April 2007 were the UK at 27%, the US at 21%, South Africa at 11%, India at 9% and Indonesia at 3%. In total, Bango detects mobile web users from over 190 countries.

And where is the future of the mobile Web? The BRIC, of course. Of the big four India is showing amazing growth:

In addition to growth in the US, Bango's data shows that 9% of all accesses to mobile websites now come from India, up from 4% a year ago. India, with a population of just over 1.1 billion and lack of an established fixed phone line network, relies on mobile phones to stay in touch. Here, mobile phone usage is set to exceed European levels within the next few years.

That also means India will likely exceed the U.S. and may become the definitive market for the mobile Web.

And which phones are people using to surf the mobile Web?

In the first quarter of 2007 the top handset for accessing mobile websites was the Sanyo Katana SCP 6600. The fact that the Sanyo Katana is only available in the US reflects the rapid growth in mobile surfing by US users. Other popular handsets included the Motorola RAZR V3, the Sony Ericsson K750i and the Samsung A900.

Besides mobile search, what else is prompting people to use the mobile Web? It's flat-rate data:

"We see that wherever flat-rate mobile data charges are pervasive in a country then there's much more web browsing," said Anil Malhotra, SVP of Marketing at Bango. "This is certainly true of the US and South Africa and the imminent introduction of flat-rate data charges in the UK will push up mobile web usage in the UK even further."

The findings from this Bango report echo a blog post of mine from earlier this year. That survey, from the Online Publishing Association, targeted a roughly equal number of respondents in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, and Spain. It found more mobile users in the U.S. than in Europe. And, just like the Bango numbers, the OPA study claimed that the U.S. was second only to the U.K. in terms of total mobile Web use.

What do you think? Will the U.S. overtake the U.K. in terms of mobile Web use? And how long will it take India and China to overtake both?

* "Bango identifies users by their country and network of origin. The ranking is produced by measuring the number of user visits to mobile websites from each country."

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