Sunday, July 13, 2008

AMERICA: We're No. 1 (I think...)

In a study by Neilsen, via WSJ, more American mobile users accessed the mobile Internet than any other nation on Earth. That's right, baby!  

As far as anyone knows, maybe the state of Internet mobility is not as bad as people normally characterized it to be.  Hey, something else we're still no. 1 in (I think we'll always be number in guns too).  

While promising, two things wrong with the study. First, Japan was not included in the study. Why? It's a good question given that mobile penetration is greater (unless that's a myth) in Japan than the United States. After all, a lot of mobile Japanese use their phones for things we have no even started doing in great numbers. Watching television, paying for train tickets, and reading novels on their phones is something the Japanese have been doing for years. All this and not to mention that the multiple phones that some Japanese youth own. Of course, each user really only carry around with them one phone at a time.  I hope.

Nevertheless, I find the 16% of Americans, an increase of 10 million from May 2007, accessing the Internet with their mobile devices an encouraging sign. Yahoo dominated with Google and Weather Channel trailing.  

A majority use the Internet for e-mails (not particularly surprising) and check of weather and headlines.  The study also concluded that mobile users visited no more than six sites a month while an user access more than 100 sites a month on their computers.  

Other thoughts:

  • I wonder what Google's numbers will be if not for a significant number of searches from iPhone users and what it's number will be when Android phones are released in the fourth quarter.

  • I would like to know the average time users spent on the Internet with their phones.  

  • I'm sure Blackberries would dominate as the device of choice for e-mail access.  But I would like to know what devices people are using to access the Internet.  

  • It would be good to know if this study including Internet devices like the Nokia 810 and the iPod Touch or just phones.  

  • Given the disparity between the number of sites visited by a mobile user versus a computer user, more effort is required to advertise the existence of WAP or mobile sites.  More than that, a different thinking is required to provide content to mobile uers that is easy and quickly.

  • Along the line of the disparity between mobile and computer users, greater efforts must be spent to increase the deployment of 3G or WiMax access.  

    Some uses of mobile Internet that operators can encourage over time:  blogging, file sharing, text-based entertainment (novels), and financial activities (banking and using devices to make payments).  Google, if you want to beat Paypal, make financial payment a part of Android.  

16% Isn't a lot but it's a start.  I think a more comprehensive study is called for to determine more in depth what people are using the mobile Internet for and where efforts are needed to encourage more uses.  Again, it's a start and encouraging.  

Lighter Note:  I did say two things that may be flawed with the study and I already mentioned Japan. The second? Porn. Really? I guess Nielsen blushed and decided not to ask it. I would have though mobile porn would be huge. Something for VCs to look into I guess.

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