A report released recently by the CNNIC, an internet organization affiliated with the Chinese government, claimed that the number of mobile Internet users in China grew by 11.4 percent in 2014, reaching 557 million, in a total of 649 million Internet users in the country. It would be hard to find more staggering statistics about the worldwide rise of mobile web usage than these.
Reports of how mobile internet traffic is surpassing desktop are increasingly frequent. Top newspaper and magazine publishers in the U.K are saying that over half of their audience now views their content on mobile and tablet devices. According to Ofcom, six in ten adults (61%) owned a smartphone in 2014, compared to half (51%) a year earlier, while desktop PC ownership has dropped, from 44% in 2012 to 35% in 2014. Young adults in the UK, between the ages 16 and 24, spend on average 3 hours 36 minutes each day using their smartphones.
The drivers of the mobile internet growth are, for the most part, obvious. Affordable phones using the Android operating system have increased smartphone penetration and made mobile internet accessible for people who can’t afford to buy the Apple iPhone, which, some years ago, was the only player in the market. WiFi spots now exist in most public buildings, cafes, and shops, while an array of mobile applications, most notably messaging apps, have made communications virtually free.
But it is the rise of social media that has made the change in consumers’ daily routines so rapid and pronounced. According to a recent Nielsen report, more than one in four minutes (28%) spent using smartphones in the UK is spent on social networking apps. Facebook consistently tops the lists with the most popular mobile applications, with other connectivity apps, like Instagram and Youtube, following close behind.
While social networking has been the main driving force behind the explosion of the mobile web, “search” is equally important for mobile users. In fact, 2015 is billed as the year when mobile search will surpass desktop search activity. According to data by Google, today most (48%) search on mobile phones starts with the use of search engines while branded apps are used as a starting point for 26% of mobile search. “Deep linking” between mobile applications, as well as in-app search technology, which allows content in apps to be crawled by search engines, are expected to reverse these statistics and revolutionise the mobile search experience.
The rapid shift from desktop to mobile has already had transformative effects for a wide range of businesses. Companies in fields ranging from the retail sector to the travel industry are already starting to adapt to the change. New and exciting mobile applications are replacing the conventional desktop experience and are finding new ways to gain consumers’ attention. Consider. for example, how a mobile app can help you discover and explore the neighborhoods of Paris: http://www.smarterparis.com/parisguide/paris-neighborhoods-right-bank/. This is a functionality that a desktop computer would never be able to offer to consumers.