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Mobile Internet Usage

Mobile internet usage has been steadily gaining ground for years, and just last month it hit another milestone. According to a press release issued yesterday from StatCounter, mobile and tablet internet usage has finally exceeded total desktop usage for the first time ever.

Last month, mobile and tablet devices made up 51.3% of total internet usage compared to 48.7% by desktop. This is the first time worldwide monthly mobile internet usage has overtaken desktop according to StatCounter’s measure.

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It is almost guaranteed this trend will continue in the long-term, but the short-term gains may not hold up. Mobile web usage has historically increased leading up to the holiday season and may deflate in the first part of next year. Even if this happens, the new milestone shows mobile usage is still consistently growing and will likely be the dominant way to access the web in the coming years.

Aodhan Cullen, CEO of StatCounter, says the new numbers should show businesses how important it is to make mobile a priority now, rather than later:

“This should be a wake up call especially for small businesses, sole traders and professionals to make sure that their websites are mobile friendly. Many older websites are not.”

Of course, mobile usage varies by country. While major markets like the US and the UK still primarily rely on desktop computers. Emerging markets like India overwhelmingly use mobile devices for internet usage and show no signs of slowing down.

It is no secret that our use of the internet is becoming more and more mobile, but the day when we actually favor mobile search over desktop connections may be sooner than previously thought.

While speaking at SMX West last week, Google’s Matt Cutts told the crowd he “wouldn’t be surprised” if mobile search exceeded desktop queries by the end of this year. Another Google speaker during an informal round-table gave a similar comment at the International Franchising Association conference in New Orleans earlier this year.

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Google refused to give an official statement, but it makes sense. Google doesn’t want anyone to be picking sides. Instead, they want to focus on cross-platform experience and marketing so that we can make the internet equally efficient and useful on every platform.

The comments are assumed to be referring to the global query volumes rather than the US or North America. Globally mobile traffic lies around 30 percent of all internet traffic, and North America has relatively similar ratios. However, many developing countries, such as India, already use mobile search far more often than desktop.

It is inevitable that one day mobile and desktop traffic will either reach a stalemate, or mobile traffic will begin to eclipse home desktop use. But, whether it will be this year is anyone’s guess. Personally, I’d be wagering on sooner rather than later.