Research by Comscore Networks suggests that there may be as many as 9.9m mobile internet users in the US.
Comscore surveyed 60,000 Americans and extrapolated the results to find that 5m people use a handheld computer to access internet services and 5.8m use a wireless phone. Allowing for the 900,000 or so who use both, Comscore believes that nearly 10m people are already accessing mobile internet services, despite a widespread perception that the US mobile data market lags that in Europe and the Far East. A typical user was male, between 18 and 34 years old and had a household income of USD 60,000 or more. Comscore also discovered that gay and lesbian interest sites were the most popular, at 30%, while car rental sites (17%) and directories (16%) also scored highly.
“Although wireless internet usage is still in its relative infancy, these data prove there already is a significant wireless web audience,” said Peter Daboll, division president of comScore Media Metrix. “While there are more internet users with cell phones, a much higher proportion of PDA owners report using those devices to go online. These usage rates warrant careful monitoring, both by manufacturers as they develop new devices and by publishers and marketers as they evaluate wireless strategies.”
Popular reporting of the US wireless data market does it a disservice. European wireless technology executives are quick to dismiss the US as lagging up to two years behind Western Europe in terms of technology and adoption, but the truth is rather different, as evidenced by Comscore’s figures.
The US market is fundamentally different to Europe, driven by factors such as different working practices, greater penetration of handheld computers and a preference for e-mail over SMS. A typical US mobile internet user is much more likely to be connecting a Palm m515 via a cellphone for e-mail and remote sychronisation than they are downloading ringtones from a WAP portal.
Break out Comscore’s figures and you find that 26% of handheld computer owners use their device for web services, versus just 9% of cellphone users. As more advanced handsets start to reach the US market and take advantage of the GPRS and CDMA2000 1x networks being deployed across the country, the high rate of wireless internet usage among handheld computer users bodes well for smartphone vendors and network operators alike.
Originally published by PMN Mobile Industry Intelligence, the subscription-based analysis and insight platform founded by Marek Pawlowski.