FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Why Do So Few Americans Use Mobile Internet?

Long heralded as the "next big thing" in Internet access, mobile Internet (that is to say, accessing the Net through cell phones and other non-PC devices) has yet to catch on big in the US. As of June 2006, 34.6 million US mobile phone users accessed the Web through their mobile devices, according to a recent study. That's only 16% of all American cell phone subscribers.

So why the low figure, especially since mobile Internet use in Europe and Asia is substantially higher? It's not from lack of hardware; the study found that 81% of US cell phone users have Web-capable cell phones. One explanation is that there is little incentive from mobile carriers for content providers to develop and offer original mobile content. Many users are locked into limited amount of content built into the carriers' browsers; external sites can be accessed, but typically they render poorly in a mobile format, if at all.

The most popular uses for mobile Internet access in the US are for news, weather and sports updates. Not surprisingly, users in the 18-26-year-old age bracket are the most aggressive mobile Internet users, making up nearly half the US mobile web population.

Source: eMarketer