ByAlister Wynn
3 min read

Mobile internet

Mobile Internet is growing, fast. With mobile internet usage expected to overtake desktop web within the next 3 years, is your business catering for this mobile market?

77% of the entire world population owns a mobile phone. The growth of the mobile has been unprecedented. It is the most quickly adopted technology in history, surpassing even the internet.1 Much of the growth in the mobile industry is linked to China and India where mobile phones are often the only means of accessing the internet. In the western world, we are seeing a shift from desktop to mobile internet just as we have already seen from landline to mobile phone.

More than 90% of mobile phones on the market in the UK are now web-enabled,2 and the latest statistics have shown that mobile phones account for a staggering 12.59% of total UK web traffic.3 In the last 18 months alone, the percentage of UK web traffic accounted for by mobile devices has risen by a huge 630%,3 demonstrating a growing trend in the British population going ‘mobile’ in their browsing.

web chart

So what has given rise to this shift in browsing habits?

The Rise and Rise of Mobile Internet

The recent boom in mobile internet browsing can be attributed largely to the strong sales of smartphone devices, with a huge 87.2% year-on-year increase in sales compared to just 5.5% for PCs.6 iPhones in particular are responsible for 58% of all mobile traffic, representing 7% of total UK web traffic.3

mobile pie chart

The rise in the amount of mobile web traffic is not only a result of the number of smartphones being purchased but the accompanying technological advances. The introduction of the Third Generation Network, also known as 3G, allowed faster network speeds for web surfing and audio/video transmission. We are now seeing more and more mobiles set up to use 4G networks, with speeds up to 10 times faster than 3G.1 These higher network speeds, combined with faster computer processors will make smart phones even more efficient, which combined with increased availability of internet access, draws more and more people to browse from their mobile as it is now not only convenient but also fast and reliable.

People are now using their mobiles for much more than talking and texting. The increased accessibility and convenience of mobile internet has led to people doing their internet banking, updating their facebook status, checking their email, searching for local businesses and making purchases, all from their mobile phone.

Why should your website cater for mobile internet users?

22% of mobile web users are described as being ‘mobile-only’ ie. they never or infrequently use a desktop, laptop or tablet to access the internet.4 By not catering for the mobile consumer you could be missing the boat.


Roughly one in seven searches, even in the smaller categories, are happening on a mobile phone, but how many of you are putting one seventh of your resources into mobile? Your customer is trying to engage you… it would be like not doing business with your customers on Thursdays.

Jason Spero, Google (Feb 2011)

According to Google, mobile searches have quadrupled in the last year, and one in three mobile searches are local. After looking up a local business, 61% of browsers called the business and 59% visited, highlighting the importance for a mobile-optimised site. A huge 71% of smartphone users that see a TV, newspaper or online advert do a mobile search for more information but surprisingly, 79% of large online advertisers do not have a mobile optimised site.2

Online purchasing using a mobile phone, now termed m-commerce is also particularly worth highlighting. Recent statistics show 91% of consumers in the UK have used their mobile to research or purchase a product.7

Websites will give a much better user experience if adapted to the device. Viewing a PC website on a mobile device will require scrolling left, right, up, down, and however good the connection, large images will also be slow to load. Technologies such as Flash used commonly on PC websites often don’t work well, if at all on many handsets including iPhones. You must also take into account the different browsing behaviour of mobile users. While PC users are often sitting comfortably at home, mobile browsing is often done whilst out and about and so the information on the site should be more relevant and easily accessible in such circumstances.5

The future?

Going on the pattern of growth over the last 6 months, by January 2012 we can expect to see mobiles accounting for over 15% of total UK web traffic. Gartner predicts that within 3 years, more people will be accessing the web from a mobile phone than from a PC.6


This forecast is helping many companies to realise the need for a mobile internet marketing strategy to ensure they grasp the opportunity to reach this huge consumer base.


1    The Third Screen, Chuck Martin, Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2011.
2    mobithinking
3    tecmark
4    slideshare
5    mobithinking
6    tecmark
7    internet retailing