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Apple’s new subscription rates have gotten some publishers thinking they might start to put more effort instead into mobile web services. Bu…

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Apple’s new subscription rates have gotten some publishers thinking they might start to put more effort instead into mobile web services. But if its audiences they’re after, they might want to consider staying in apps for a little while longer… A new survey out today shows that in the U.S. only 20 percent of adults use the mobile web on a daily basis, and growth has been nearly stagnant for the last year.

The numbers come from a report from YouGov and commissioned by Antenna Software, which surveyed 2,296 UK and 2,079 U.S. people over the age of 18. Earlier this month, Antenna, which has up to now focussed on apps, announced that it bought mobile web specialists Volantis in an effort to provide converged services (app and mobile web) to both enterprise and consumer audiences. Some other numbers from the survey:

– UK users are slightly more mobile web-friendly. The survey found that 23 percent of UK adults now use the mobile internet every day, compared to 13 percent a year ago. The U.S. user base of daily users a year ago was 17 percent — meaning their ranks only only grew by three percent in the last year. On a weekly basis, 34 percent (UK) and 33 percent (U.S.) of consumers access the mobile web at least once a week, up from 27 percent and 28 percent respectively in 2010. That’s slightly more encouraging, but still quite bad, considering that we have our devices with us all the time.

– Worse is to look at the number of people never using the mobile web. The survey found that 39 percent of people in the UK who can access the mobile internet on their devices, actually do. And that number was even worse in the U.S.: 44 percent of American consumers who have mobile-internet-capable handsets never use it.

– Those who are going to the mobile web seem to largely be getting driven there by very specific services: Instant messaging drove 21 percent (UK) and 22 percent (U.S.) of users to mobile web browsers; as did social networking services (27 percent for both the UK and U.S.). That leads one to think that these kinds of interactive services should be integrated more with other mobile web sites to encourage traffic.

There are still some major challenges to mobile web usage, though. YouGove found that in the UK some 48 percent of consumers said they would be more likely to use mobile web browsing if the experience was more like that of a PC. More specifically, people still have problems with display and data pricing.

But perhaps most importantly of all, the mobile web experience, by and large, is still not as good as what people are getting on mobile apps. Jim Somers, the CSO of Antenna, described it well to me:

“What’s most important is that mobile apps have a lot more fuctionality,” he said. “If you’re an ING banking customer you can’t do deep customer transactions on web the way you would do on an app. And on native consumer apps, you can use the accelerometer, utilize the GPS chipset and use other features. That can and will change but you can only do so much today on the mobile internet.”

The takeaway? Users who own devices that do not have dedicated apps might shift more of their attention to the mobile web over time, but for those who have the apps now, a wholesale change may be some time coming.

  1. Firstly it is interesting to see UK mobile web use growing at such a good rate – that in itself is an interesting trend.

    One thing this does not account for is the blur between web and app – not only do you have some excellent web apps and widgets (http://untappd.com is one of my favourites) but you also have apps that are little more than wrappers around a set of web pages. These are downloaded from the app store but effectively use standard web content to deliver the service. Accounting for all those will provide very different numbers. Bango Analytics (http://bango.com/analytics) spans both app and web and is recording a healthy growth in global web activity as well as apps. One interesting factor is that over 50% of smart phone connections are now over WiFi which makes accurately recording web activity more complex and often results in lower numbers.

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