Addicted to the Mobile Web? You're Not Alone as Trend Shows Desktop Usage Dropping

By Oliveira, Michael | The Canadian Press, September 4, 2013 | Go to article overview

Addicted to the Mobile Web? You're Not Alone as Trend Shows Desktop Usage Dropping


Oliveira, Michael, The Canadian Press


Mobile growing strong as desktop usage drops

--

TORONTO - A few short years ago, back when spotting an iPad in public was still a novelty, some tech prognosticators were boldly predicting that it wouldn't be long before use of the mobile web surpassed Internet usage through computers.

It was a little hard to imagine.

It hasn't happened in Canada yet -- it's still not even close -- but it no longer seems that implausible.

Facebook recently announced that its users now connect to the social network more on phones and tablets than they do with desktop and laptop computers.

BBC News also reported this summer that for the first time ever, it saw mobile traffic exceed computer traffic for some of its news coverage, including stories on the death of Canadian actor Cory Monteith.

Experts' best guesses suggest it'll still take years before mobile is fully neck and neck with computer usage when it comes to overall Internet consumption -- particularly in North America -- but given how quickly tablets and smartphones have been adopted, it could happen sooner than expected.

"It seems pretty inevitable if you look out two, three, four years that the dominant way of connecting to the Internet, connecting to information, connecting to your friends, is going to be through mobile, that's very much a global trend," said Cory Ondrejka, Facebook's director of mobile engineering.

"I think there are products like Facebook where it's a much more natural fit to be using on mobile, so we're very much a leading edge on this transition to mobile because it's a more natural use case. Not every product in the world has that same dynamic, there are some products that may make more sense on a desktop so they're going to have a longer transition to mobile."

According to the website StatCounter, mobile represented just 0.67 per cent of global Internet traffic in January 2009 but grew to 1.5 per cent a year later, 4.3 per cent by the beginning of 2011 and nearly doubled in each of the following two years. It now stands at about 18 per cent. The numbers are higher in Africa and Asia but lower in North America, with only 11 per cent of overall Internet traffic in Canada linked to mobile devices.

The mobile trend has taken off quicker in emerging markets where computers are less commonly found in homes, said Ondrejka.

"There are billions of people over the next three or four years that their first connection to the Internet is going to be through mobile devices," he said.

"If you think about most of the people we talk to every day, they got to know the Internet through a laptop or desktop machine and then started using mobile browsers. There's a huge number of people who have never seen the Internet and their first experience with that is going to be on the phone."

Eric Morris, Google Canada's head of mobile advertising, said there are a few "pockets" of mobile usage that are catching up to or even surpassing computer usage in Canada. …

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