New devices change web habits

17 August 2011

LONDON: Mobile phones and tablets are likely to gain ground on PCs as consumers' favoured means of accessing the internet, a multi-market study has found.

TrendStream, the technology consultancy, drew on data from interviews with 100,000 people in 27 countries, collected over five waves, as part of its GlobalWebIndex research programme.

It reported that 79% of respondents agreed a PC or laptop is currently their preferred way of going online, but only 42% expected this to be the case in 12 months time.

Tablets posted an improvement from 2% to 19% during the same period, totals reaching 7% and 18% for mobile phones, while web-connected TVs also saw growth from 1% to 7%.

Another major trend is the "fragmented web", given the gap between the most rapid and slowest expansion rates regarding pastimes like social networking and instant messaging varied by as much as 73% across the nations assessed.

Indeed, web users in Germany, Japan, Poland, the UK and US are increasingly using new media for commercial purposes, whereas their peers in India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Russia primarily focus on social media.

The online populations of China, Brazil and Turkey are highly engaged with both such activities, but Canadian, Australian and Spanish consumers showed lower levels of enthusiasm in these areas.

Almost 40% of the panels in Brazil, Russia, India and China accessed a microblog in the month before the poll, falling to 23.1% globally and 6.6% in the US, suggesting American interest in sites like Twitter is "stagnating".

Similarly, although Facebook usage is rising worldwide, "fatigue" had set in for the US sample, as pursuits such as messaging friends and joining groups witnessed double-digit declines measured against 2009.

As digital habits mature, the requirements consumers have of brands are also changing, with the desire for information about products declining 19%, but the wish to take part in genuine conversations climbing 13%.

The number of people in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK updating social media profiles on a mobile has increased 176%, standing at 133% for reading news and 123% for conducting local search.

Overall, 24% of North American and European participants had downloaded a mobile app in the month prior to the study, rising to 26% in Latin America and 42% in Asia Pacific.

Data sourced from TrendStream; additional content by Warc staff