People are turning to mobile phones for Internet use more quickly than they are adopting laptops for the same purpose in many parts of the world, according to a recent study of Internet trends.
Personal computers are still the most popular way to gain Internet access, but the rapid pace of mobile phone installation and the development of wireless networks is driving robust growth in the use of phones for browsing, according to results from The Face of the Web, an annual study by Ipsos Insight.
Four in 10 adults in Japan used their wireless handsets to browse the Internet in 2005, according to an announcement from Ipsos this week. That is double the rate from 2003, but the trend is leveling off in other markets, including the United States and Canada, where notebook PCs appear are emerging as stronger on-the-go platforms.
Twenty-eight percent of mobile phone owners worldwide have browsed the Internet on a wireless handset. That is up just 3 percent since 2004, and the trend is being driven in part by people over age 35, rather than younger, early adopters.
The study, which was conducted in November and December 2005, showed that text messaging is the most popular mobile and wireless activity. More than half of all mobile phone households have sent text messages and more than one-third have send or received e-mail on their mobile phones. Most mobile device activities increased in 2005, including mobile commerce, sending and receiving pictures and downloading entertainment content, according to the sample of 6,544 adults in Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany India, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Applications are expected to grow and mobile phones are poised to overtake the personal computer as the dominant Internet platform in some markets, according to Brian Cruikshank, senior vice president and managing director of Ipsos Insight's Technology & Communications practice.
"Accessing the Internet on a wireless handheld device is no longer a novelty for consumers in the major global economies," Cruikshank said in a prepared statement. "It's becoming a common, everyday occurrence for many people. In the long term, many of today's PC-centric online activities could be complemented through the mobile phone or migrate to the mobile phone altogether, due to greater convenience and faster connection speeds."