Report: Phones Outflanking Notebooks for Web Access

Think accessing the Web from your mobile phone is an idea whose time hasn't yet -- and may never -- come? But you hate lugging even a three-pound notebook everywhere you go?

According to researcher IPSOS, it may be later than you think.

"Internet access via the mobile phone actually outpaces wireless access from a notebook PC in many of areas of the world -- a statistic driven largely by the massive installed base of mobile phones throughout the world as well as more developed wireless networks," according to The Face of the Web, an annual study of Internet trends just released by global market research firm Ipsos Insight.

Among the report's other insights, France and the U.K. currently exhibit the strongest growth in the trend to access the Web from mobile phones. Japan is another hotspot for burgeoning usage of phones to surf the Web.

"Today, four in 10 adults browse the Internet on their wireless handset in Japan, double the rate from 2003," the report continues.

In contrast, the mobile work model in the U.S. and Canada appears to favor wireless notebooks as the platform of choice. As proof, the report points out that growth in using mobile phones to access the Web in those two nations has been leveling off.

Still, worldwide, 28 percent of mobile phone users said they have used their handsets to browse the Web in 2005, up 3 percent from 2004, Ipsos says. Additionally, most of the growth was among users 35 and older, indicating that such use is emerging into the mainstream.

In contrast, mobile phone ownership at the end of 2005 was at "near saturation levels" in many areas of the world -- most notably in East Asia. More than 90 percent of all households in South Korea, Japan and urban China own at least one mobile phone and, in Europe, that number is 80 percent.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., only 75 percent of households have at least one mobile phone and in Canada it falls as low as 60 percent, the report concludes.

The Face of the Web 2005 study was conducted in November and December 2005 among a random sample of 6,544 adults in urban Brazil, Canada, urban China, France, Germany, urban India, Japan, urban Mexico, urban Russia, South Korea, the U.K., and the U.S., according to Ipsos.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.