Are Mobile Internet Usage Figures Exaggerated?
It might seem strange to use such an obvious question as the title of a blog post. And if you’re coming here expecting the answer to said question, you’re going to be disappointed. I am merely posing a question that I haven’t seen posed and I think needs to be.
First of all let’s be clear on the definition of “mobile internet”. I’m talking web browsing on mobile devices running mobile operating systems and browsers (tablets and smartphones), not using a mobile internet connection on a laptop (or other fully functioning PC) for instance.
I keep reading how mobile internet access will eclipse, or is already eclipsing internet access on desktop (and laptop) computers. In fact, only today I came across another website proclaiming desktop internet usage only accounts for less than 50% right now and then implying that the rest is now taken up by mobile. I’ve also seen all the fancy “prediction” graphs and infographics that show that we all will have forgotten what desktop computers are within a couple of years, and we’ll only be using mobile devices for the internet.
My question is, is there any hard evidence to support this? Or is it just the sensationalist media making stuff up? It certainly wouldn’t be the first time the media (or companies with their own agenda) exaggerated, misinformed, or just made stuff up and it certainly won’t be the last. And the trouble is, when they do, too many people just seem to blindly accept it as fact.
I’m quite prepared to accept if I’m wrong on this, but the real-world figures I’m seeing (that have been confirmed by other’s web stats) are that mobile traffic currently makes up less than 20% of internet traffic, with the rest still being from traditional fixed computer connections. So where are people getting this 50%+ from, I really have no idea.
Now I’m not saying 20% is a figure you can ignore, but it is still a minority audience and certainly WAY below the figure the media are pushing. The problem is, I’m seeing more and more clients thinking that they should be targeting the mobile web as a priority, which inevitably alienates a large portion of the desktop audience (when it comes to games and apps in HTML5 at least).
So, as I said in the beginning, I’m merely posing the question. If anyone has real-world traffic figures for a website(s) that isn’t targeted specifically at mobile users and has anything even approaching a 50-50 split of traffic, please post your numbers to the comments below. I’m quite happy to stand corrected on this and the more data we can collect in one place, the better we can judge what is actually going on in the real world and not in some journalist or mobile device manufacturer’s fantasy land.