updated 02:50 pm EDT, Wed May 21, 2008
US Mobile Web Use Study
Americans browse the web on their cellphones almost twice as often as their British counterparts even without the help of web-friendly devices like the iPhone, according to a new study by M:Metrics. Despite the reputation of Europeans as more openly embracing smartphones, Americans in March were known to spend an average of four hours and 38 minutes per month on websites using their phones versus almost exactly two and a half hours for British users. The difference is largely attributed to the prevalence of flat-rate data plans in the US, which give customers either a block of data or unlimited access instead of the metering that more often exists in Europe.
The ratings only cover devices using the Palm OS, Symbian, and Windows Mobile, though M:Metrics argues that this pattern of increased web use reflects an overall trend that is almost certain to include the iPhone and other devices where web use is a strong component. Most phone users simply have more reason to browse sites, the study researchers say.
"Consumption is quickly evolving from brief transactions, such as checking the weather or flight status, to time-intensive interaction with mobile Web sites -- even without an iPhone," senior analyst Mark Donovan says.
A factor helping Americans is the prevalence of phones with QWERTY keyboards that allow Americans to participate in more text-heavy content than UK residents, who are more likely to browse using a conventionally-shaped phone. Separately, the gap between access speeds in each country is also closing as AT&T and other providers boost 3G coverage.
The choice of sites also varies between the two countries. Americans are more likely to visit auction sites such as craigslist or eBay, while British users visit social site Facebook as well as service-specific pages that include cell carrier 3, TV provider Sky, and the BBC. Americans tend to visit for longer, with a given user spending an average of 32 minutes per day on craigslist where their overseas equivalents spend 19 minutes on Facebook.