Four surprising facts about mobile usage

Four surprising facts about mobile usage

Let's take a look at some of the more, shall we say, unexpected metrics with regard to mobile usage, all in the spirit of keeping it real.

We've said it many times before, and we'll say it again: mobile is a big deal.

By now, we don't really need to spend much time extolling the sheer number of tablets and smartphones in the hands of consumers around the globe. Every agency and brand out there is on the mobile train by now (or at least considering it).

But are all those market dollars heading in the right direction? Based on the big numbers - like the billion+ smartphones out there - it's easy to try to tackle mobile with a one-size-fits-all approach. But there are some less often cited numbers that might surprise you, when it comes to mobile strategy.

#1: Don't diss the desktop

Mobile is gaining on desktop browsing, but the desktop still rules the roost. With nearly 79% of browsing still happening from a traditional desktop, you can't afford to ignore the conventional website. But there's no denying the rapid rate at which mobile is displacing the desktop's dominance. According to Smart Insights, mobile use saw an increase from around 11% usage in Q1 of 2012 to about 22% of those surveyed in 2013. Correspondingly, desktop dropped around 10 percentage points.

Where mobile is really gaining ground is when it comes to conversion, going by the data. Mobile device usage results in a conversion 3.58% of the time, while traditional desktop browsing results in a sale only 2.6% of the time. So we can draw the conclusion that, while there may be more desktop users, mobile users are more likely to actually buy something.

#2: iPads > Android Tablets

Android is gaining in growth, rapidly putting tablets in the hands of users in developing economies. But the smart money is still on the iPad when it comes to mobile website optimisation.

According to data from BI Intelligence, iPads occupy 80% of the tablet market. Likewise, if you're going to have an app (or other downloadable content), the Apple App Store continues to spank Google Play. Google Play represents only 27% of the market for apps, according to Distimo

#3: Not everyone is using mobile

Also, according to Smart Insights data, there are definitely some identifiable barriers to mobile buying.

What's stopping mobile purchases? Here are the biggest culprits:

  1. Prefer to use computer/laptop
  2. Doesn't feel secure
  3. Too Complicated

There's even a surprising spattering of the 18-29 year old demographic (!) that says they've never heard of shopping via mobile. We didn't see that one being the largest demographic to consider that to be a barrier!

#4: Apps do it better

comScore data (from 2012) tells us that the majority (82%) of mobile device traffic stems from app use. Here, the apps, not the browsers win, with apps like iTunes mobile, Google Maps, and Facebook mobile representing the most popular apps, with YouTube and Yahoo not too far behind.

Are you tapping into those resources for your business? How about a Google Place page linking to Google Maps? How about an audio podcast spun from your blog to get you onto iTunes? Kind of makes you wonder about the possibilities, doesn’t it?


Mobile may not be the only show in town, but its audience is certainly growing. We've talked before about responsive web design, and all the data above does is make the case for responsive design all the more compelling.

Are you approaching the web with scalability and cross-platform reach in mind? Given the continued demand for desktop browsing, declining gradually toward increased mobile usage, now's the time to start thinking about responsiveness.

Where does most of your traffic come from, desktop or mobile? Which brings more sales to your business?

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