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Summary:

comScore shares some interesting numbers on mobile device browsing trends today. Not counting social networking, the number of U.S. mobile phone owners that accessed the web for daily news and information more than doubled in the last year. The numbers tracked are between January 2008, which […]

comscore

comScore shares some interesting numbers on mobile device browsing trends today. Not counting social networking, the number of U.S. mobile phone owners that accessed the web for daily news and information more than doubled in the last year. The numbers tracked are between January 2008, which saw 10.8 million people on the mobile web, and January 2009, with 22.3 million daily mobile device web users.

Drilling down into the types of web activities over the past year, social networking is actually the fastest grower: this segment shows a 427 percent growth rate in daily users during the same time period. The No. 2 activity isn’t surprising considering the global economic slide. Accessing financial information or trading stocks was the runner up to social networking in terms of growth rates in the year. Maybe this is a one-two combination? I’ve seen my fair share of stock tips and financial commentary in FriendFeed and Twitter of late.

While comScore provides the trends and numbers, it’s up to us to figure out why the trends are what they are. My thoughts are threefold. First, the adoption rates of 3G data plans continues to rise. I’ve been using 3G since 2004, but back then, I was a geek in the minority. Today, I see folks accessing 3G networks on sub-smartphones as well as traditional 3G devices and I’m just a geek: no minority.  Second, the combination of application stores and mobile friendly web sites are removing old barriers of entry to information. Major news outlets offer sites or apps that slim down the glitz and flash, but sill offer meaty amounts of useful data. The same holds true for financial data. In fact, my most oft-used third-party iPhone apps are USA Today and Mint.

Lastly, we’ve seen great maturity in mobile web browsers. Webkit-based browsers like that in Apple’s iPhone, Google Android and Palm’s upcoming Pre are more efficient than the handheld browsers some of us cut our teeth on five years ago. A number of server-side browsers optimize and compress web data before you see it. That speeds up the ability to view web info on the phone as well: Skyfire, Opera Mini and Bolt all come to mind in this area. These three factors are laying the groundwork. As companies realize the growing audience for mobile consumption, they’ll migrate their information in ways that make it even easier and faster. In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see even higher growth rates over the next 12 months.

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  1. Gavin Miller Monday, March 16, 2009

    Well, certainly here in the UK there’s been two significant factors – reduced cost of plans with free hardware, and blanket advertising! No complaints here though, I have 4 different plans, O2 3Gb in my HTC Advantage, 3 1Gb that my partner users in her mini 9, 3 15Gb I use as my main plan, and an Orange data plan for my iPhone (only 250mb though). Total monthly costs for these 4 data plans, which included free modems (apart from orange) is £25 per month. Last year I was paying Vodafone £29 for one 3Gb plan.

    1. Gavin, just received a Mugen battery for the HTC Advantage. I’ll be covering it soon so stay tuned. :)

  2. With the growth of mobile data subscriptions and the rise of innovative web applications on devices such as the iPhone, wireless network operators have seen a dramatic increase in data consumption and the resulting effects of limited bandwidth on network capacity. Data management capabilities such as smart optimization and intelligent service control have become imperative even for operators of HSPA and other high-speed networks. As Kevin Tofel points out, there are specific solutions that optimize and compress web data to alleviate this problem, but operators need to do more to protect their network infrastructure as data traffic continues to grow. By increasing network efficiency and capacity and enforcing fair use policies, operators can manage the effects of continued traffic growth within the footprint of their existing installation and scale their networks ahead of rising data usage trends. This will also ensure a compelling user experience while building brand loyalty and reducing churn.

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