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How Do Internet Users Divvy Up Their Desktop, Mobile Web Time?

Email gets more mobile time

The bite mobile is taking out of desktop internet use keeps getting bigger. The Media Behavior Institute monitored US study participants and found that the mobile phone and tablet were drawing down the percentage of internet users who turn to the computer in a given week: The percentage on desktop slipped by 5 points between the six-month period ending in July 2012 and the six-month period ending in January 2013.

As desktop’s reach falls, mobile’s reach rises. On average, 43.5% of participants accessed the internet via a mobile phone each week during the period ending in January 2013, an 8-percentage-point increase over the period ending in July 2012. Tablets grew their average weekly reach by 4 percentage points, used by 17% of participants at the end of the study period.

In terms of what activities internet users are engaging in on mobile vs. desktop, in Q1 2013 Experian Marketing Services found that US mobile internet users spent the greatest percentage of their mobile web time using email, a 23% share of time spent vs. only 5% of time spent on desktop. Social networking came in second on mobile, garnering 15% of time spent. Travel also occupied a greater share of time on the mobile internet (9%) compared with the desktop (1%).

On the desktop internet, activity was much more heavily weighted toward social networking, which accounted for 27% of time spent online. Entertainment was the second most popular activity, taking up 15% of time.

Mobile vs. desktop usage patterns will continue to change, especially as tablet penetration rates climb higher. In the US, 67% of mobile internet users surveyed by Decision Fuel and On Device Research in November 2012 said they mostly or only used mobile, as opposed to the desktop, to go online and surf the web. Only one-third stuck with the desktop either half or most of the time.


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