Mobile Internet Use Expanding


Taken together, a quartet of studies and surveys released during the past several weeks brings very good news to proponents of the mobile Internet.


Based on the annoying habit of federal workers and agencies to lose laptops, it is unclear if the nation is best served by an increase or decrease of mobility on the part of this group. Regardless, Telework Exchange this week released a comprehensive study that found that more than half of all Federal workers are using the wireless Internet, though 40 percent of federal IT executives say their agencies don't allow its use. Only 68 percent of respondents say that their agencies provide security, while 83 percent say that the wireless Internet can be secure.


The government is not the only group using the mobile Internet. A Nielsen Mobile study, also released this week, found that the leading countries in terms of penetration are the U.S., the UK and Italy, with 15.6 percent, 12.9 percent and 11.9 percent, respectively. The firm says that the mobile Internet has reached critical mass in terms of advertising and that unlimited packages and 3G networks are important elements of the growth. Yahoo Mail is the most popular mobile site in the U.S. with 14 million unique visitors monthly.


A third recent study also suggests that the mobile Internet is growing. Late last month, Juniper Research said that the number of mobile Internet subscribers will grow from 577 million now to 1.7 billion by 2013. The press release outlines the services that will attract these people. The most important theme of the study, however, is that mobile Web 2.0 will drive the model toward direct-to-consumer transactions. This, the release says, will put pressure on operators and handset vendors to be more flexible in how devices can be used.


Still another June study provides some forward thinking for U.S. firms, despite the caveat that the research was done in Europe. At its blog, mmC GROUP Strategy Consultants said that penetration of mobile devices had reached 84 percent among consumers between the ages of 12 and 24. The firm found that the group uses its mobile devices more than older groups and is open to new services offered by operators.


The takeaway, according to the blog entry, is that this group only adopts features they feel deliver real benefits and that planners need to understand more than just mobile behavior to effectively link them to online social media. U.S. planners should pay attention to the study, since what happens here generally follows Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. Studying younger demographics is important, since these folks will use these tools as they merge into the workforce.


A side note, but clearly anecdotal evidence that the mobile Internet is growing, was the announcement last month that Chrysler is planning to make Wi-Fi an option on its 2009 models. Hopefully, the wisdom of Dilithium, who fears people surfing the Internet as they drive at 50 miles per hour, will prevail.