U.S. Mobile Web Adoption Slow

Mobile Internet penetration is lower in the U.S. than in many European countries. Data from comScore‘s “Mobile Tracking Study” identify differences in mobile Web usage between European and American consumers.

An average 29 percent of European Internet users access the Web on mobile devices. This includes users in Germany (34 percent); Italy (34 percent); France (28 percent); Spain (26 percent); and the U.K. (24 percent). In the U.S., 19 percent of Internet users access the Internet on cell phones and other mobile devices. Across all six countries, mobile Web users are predominantly male (55 percent).

“The uptake of mobile usage started sooner [in Europe] and is more evolved than in the U.S.,” said Bob Ivins, managing director of comScore Europe. “The ability to have a mobile phone carrier in the U.K. and fly to France and use the mobile phone, those connectivity walls broke down sooner than in the U.S.”

Mobile Internet Penetration by Country, September 2006
U.S. France Germany Italy Spain U.K.
Online population (000) 152,698 23,980 32,085 17,389 12,281 29,589
Online population accessing Web from mobile phone (%) 19 28 34 34 26 24
Note: The online population consists of people 15 years old and older from home and work.
Source: comScore Networks, 2006

The category of sites accessed varies between the U.S. and Europe. Portals like Google, Yahoo, and MSN dominate in the U.S. market with 74 percent of mobile traffic. In European countries, the popularity of portals peaks at 34 percent in Italy, with smaller audiences in the U.K. (31 percent); Germany (29 percent); Spain (28 percent); and France (24 percent).

Operator portals developed and run by carriers like Vodafone, o2 and T-Mobile are more popular in Europe. Five percent of the U.S. market uses operator portals compared to the U.K. (31 percent); France (26 percent); Germany (25 percent); Spain (25 percent); and Italy (18 percent).

Mobile Internet Penetration- Most Popular Sites, September 2006 (%)
Site Category U.S. France Germany Italy Spain U.K.
Online Portal 74 24 29 34 28 31
Operator Portal 5 26 25 18 25 31
Specific Mobile Site 0 17 17 23 4 0
Commerce Site 4 4 8 7 6 8
News Site 2 10 0 11 2 9
Other 15 22 21 8 35 21
Source: comScore Networks, 2006

“Across Europe, the portal doesn’t translate well, and carriers have created mobile-specific sites,” said Ivins. “I think people in the U.S. are familiar with the concept of a portal…and some of the portals in the U.S. are pushing content suitable for a mobile device.”

The data are part of an ongoing mobile tracking study looking at differences in how Europeans and Americans use the Web on mobile phones. It tracks consumers across the U.S., France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the U.K.

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