Monday, February 26, 2007

Americans Still Lagging Behind Europeans in Mobile Web
Americans Still Lagging Behind Europeans in Mobile WebA new study shows that 34% of all American internet users have accessed the Web using wireless connections, like Wi-Fi or 3G broadband.

Wi-Fi is a brand originally licensed by the Wi-Fi Alliance to describe the underlying technology of wireless local area networks (WLAN) based on the IEEE 802.11 specifications. It was developed to be used for mobile computing devices, such as laptops, in LANs, but is now increasingly used for more services, including Internet and VoIP phone access, gaming, and basic connectivity of consumer electronics such as televisions and DVD players, or digital cameras.

The use of wireless connections for Web-surfing has been steadily rising during the last two years, with a new study of American Life Project showing that 34% of all internet surfers have logged on wirelessly, either around the house, at their workplace, or some place else. That means that one third of internet users have checked their e-mails or simply browsed Web-pages using PDAs, Wi-Fi capable laptops or phones.

27% have accessed the internet using wireless networks installed in other places than home or work, while those who had accessed the Web wirelessly from home were only 19%. PDA users with wireless internet access were even less, only 13%.

The study, conducted between Nov. 30 and Dec. 30 2006 on a sample of 2,373 adults 18 and older, also showed that the dominant activity during the wireless internet-surfing is e-mail verification, followed by news-reading. 72% of wireless users checked email daily, compared to 63% of home broadband users and 54% of all internet users, while 46% got their news online on the typical day, compared to 38% of home broadband users and 31% of all internet users.

The differences between wireless and home broadband users are statistically significant and notable because most wireless users (80%) have broadband connections at home. The findings suggest that the “relentless connectivity” afforded by wireless access represents a different quality in online behavior.

The study also showed that 27% of adult internet users have logged onto the internet using a wireless device at some place other than their home or place of employment. Among those interviewed 20% had wireless networks installed at home and used them to access the Web. The percent of those who had accessed the Web while at work was surprisingly smaller, only 17%.

Most wireless surfers log on wirelessly from more than just one of the places asked about. In fact, 25% of internet users have gone online wirelessly from two of the three places; put differently, three-quarters of all those who have logged onto the internet using a wireless network have done this from more than one of the types of places queried.

Four in ten (39%) internet users have laptop computers and of these laptop users, 80% say their laptops can connect to the internet on a wireless network.

Most of the time, those with wireless enabled laptops connect to a wireless network at home, although most also have logged on from someplace other than work or home.

88% of all laptop users who have been interviewed have at one time logged on using a home wireless network’ while 57% have used a wireless network someplace other than home or work to connect to the internet. 36% have logged using a wireless network at work.

One in five (19%) of internet users have wireless networks at home, which is twice the number recorded when the Pew Internet Project asked this question in January 2005, when 10% of internet users had home wireless networks.

The study also revealed that 25% of those interviewed had a Web-browsing capable phone that worked with 3G networks. Among internet users with this type of phones, half (54%) have used it to get on the internet either at home, work, or someplace other than home or work.

Web-browsing on mobile phones seems to be a spare-time pleasure for the majority of the subjects, 47% of them having used mobile Web someplace other than home or work. The difference between those who used mobiles for internet at home and at work is very small, 28% having done that at work and 27% at home.

One in eight (13%) internet users have a PDA that can connect to the internet using a wireless network. Of these, most (82%) have used it to connect at home, work, or someplace other than home or work.

PDAs are used mainly by those who want quick and ubiquitous access to their e-mail, while Web-browsing comes second. 56% of those with a web-enabled PDA have used it to access the internet or email away from home or work; 49% have done this with their PDA at home; 38% have used their PDA to connect to the web or email at work.

But despite the fact that Americans use modern technologies to access the internet without wires, they still lag behind Europeans in the mobile Web domain. comScore networks reported in October 2006 that that 29 percent of European Internet users within France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK regularly access the Web from their mobile phones compared to only 19 percent in the U.S. Even if the more recent study shows that the proportion of mobile-Web users in US has increased, it’s still behind the one reported in Europe (which has not stagnated in the meantime).

Of the countries examined, the highest mobile Web penetration was seen in both Germany and Italy (34 percent for each), followed by France with 28 percent, Spain with 26 percent and the UK with 24 percent. The U.S. figure of 19 percent was the lowest of the set.

The comScore Mobile Tracking Study also showed than men were somewhat more likely to access the Web from their mobile phones than women. Across all six European countries, although the Internet penetration is split evenly between men and women, 55 percent of those who access the Web from their mobile phones are men.

comScore’s study also found Nokia to be the leading brand of phone for those who regularly access the mobile Web across five of the six countries examined, capturing share ranging from 50 percent in Italy to 22 percent in France. Only in the U.S., where Motorola has the greatest share (26 percent), is Nokia pushed into second place, with a 17 percent share.