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Mobile Web: Only a third of EU web-phone owners have gone online

March 12, 2007

During the Online Publishers Association London 2007 Forum last week (8th March) David Klein from TNS presented the results of their research on mobile internet usage commissioned by the OPA. The gist is that there is a long way to go before mobile Internet goes mainstream – but some hope that consumer behaviour will change and tipping point will be reached. All the interesting facts and figures for the UK and EU are below.

Going Mobile: An International Study of Content Use and Advertising on the Mobile Web

Depending on whether your glass is half full or half empty, the results of this survey show that either there is a massive opportunity in mobile that just requires a change in customer behaviour, or it’s a total waste of time for most markets and demographics. Mine is half empty right now…

The ownership and usage gap

The survey results show that in the EU, 77% of people own a web-enabled mobile phone, but only 31% have ever used that feature. Of those that had not, just 18% said they would use mobile web in the next 12 months. This drops to just 15% for low-income groups. Mid and high income groups were 22% and 29% respectively.

The most likely users of the mobile web were young males with a high income. So the least likely are older females on low incomes. Given that’s my target market at the moment, I think my policy of “lah lah lah, I’m not listening” on mobile is the right one!

Usage growth

As for those that did use the mobile web were asked how their usage would change over the next 12 months. 20% said they would use it more, 63% said they would use it the same amount and 11% said they would use it less – so that’s some net growth, albeit small. Oh, and only 25% who use the mobile web are actually satisfied by the service. The main gripe is speed.

So those numbers aren’t great, but there’s some growth and maybe it just needs to reach tipping point before it takes off properly. But the other question everybody wants to know is once people are using it in earnest, will we as publishers be able to make any money out of it?

Monetisation

Well, interestingly 37% said they would be happy to watch adverts on their phones in return for free content. So what content is working? In the UK it’s weather, sports, stock quotes and news – no surprises there really. Up to 40% of people will actually bother to register or personalise (kind of necessary for weather and stock quotes…) which is encouraging – but only 11% actually pay for this content. Thank God that people are working hard to figure out the mobile ad market…

It’s better in Asia

If you’re in developed Asia you’re likely to fair much better – 90% of people own a web enabled phone and of these an incredible 89% have used it as well!

UPDATE:

The full report has now been published on the web, which includes a slide which (I swear) was not shown at the presentation on Thursday, breaking down ownership and usage by country. This shows that the UK is leading mobile web take-up with 76% owning a web-enabled phone and 54% having used it. This is a bit more promising! However the usage is still being driven by young high-income males, with penetration being much less for older low-income females.

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