Daily Mobile Internet Use Doubles

The number of people using mobile devices to access news and information on the Internet more than doubled in the past year, according to figures released by market firm ComScore this week.

Young males are the most avid users of mobile news and information, according to Comscor (NASDAQ: SCOR), with half of 18-to 34-year-old males engaging in the activity. The mobile Internet is also quite popular among females in the 18 to 24-year-old demographic. The report covered January 2008 to January 2009.

Among the 63.2 million people who used mobile devices to get news and other information from the Internet in January 2009, 22.4 million (35 percent) did so daily — more than double the size of the audience last year, according to comScore.

Social networking and blogging also shined in the report, as these activities increased the most in terms of daily viewership – by a staggering 427 percent, from 1.7 million to 9.2 million, for the months of January 2008 and 2009 respectively.

The report’s findings come at a time when the growing popularity of smartphones continue to boost mobile Internet use, which is having a widespread impact on the mobile industry in terms of advertising, service offerings and sales. Despite projected dips in sales growth, the overall smartphone market is still in the black, and Juniper Research predicts that smartphones will account for 23 percent of all new mobile phones by 2013 as demand continues for devices that can run complex applications beyond simple phone calls.

As a result, mobile phone plan providers are scrambling to transition from subscriber minute plans to Internet data plans to remain competitive and advertisers are clamoring to capitalize on the nascent mobile Internet market – all for good reason.

“Over the course of the past year, we have see use of mobile internet evolve from an occasional activity to being a daily part of our lives,” comScore senior V.P. of mobile, Mark Donovan, said in a statement. “This underscores the growing importance of the mobile medium as consumers become more reliant on their mobile devices to access time-sensitive and utilitarian information.”

What’s driving the growth?

Donovan also says that much of the growth is due to the increased popularity of downloaded applications — such as those offered for the iPhone — and by text-based searches.

In January, 22.3 million people got their mobile Internet news and information from a downloaded application, according to comScore’s report. It goes on to cite maps as the most popular downloaded application with 8.2 million users, while search was overwhelmingly favored use for SMS-based news and information access, with 14.1 million users. Overall, 32.4 million people used SMS to access news and information in January.

This supports Juniper’s research recently outlined in Andrew Kitson’s “Smartphones Report.” He says, “The runaway success of Apple’s App Store – reportedly 300 million applications were downloaded by iPhone users within five months of its launch – underscores the rapidity with which smartphones are being adopted by ordinary consumers, eager to build a complete multi-utility lifestyle tool rooted in the Web 2.0 culture.”

The App Store was not the first on the market, but its high visibility and ease of use has prompted players such as Nokia, RIM, and Google also to jump into the applications market, according to Juniper.

“As vendors increasingly open up the operating system software on their devices…mobile handsets (will steadily) evolve into personalised Internet-centric mobile computers,” says Kitson, “Very soon, the majority of new phones will be smartphones.”

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