Who Uses the Mobile Internet?

Mobile browser Opera released another round of data on global mobile Internet usage. The high level findings are as follows:

  • In the ten countries examined, male users of Opera Mini greatly outnumber female users. The biggest difference in usage between males and females is in India, where 97.2% of people using Opera Mini to browse the Web are males. The smallest difference is in South Africa, where 1 out of 4 people using Opera Mini are females.
  • Browsing the Web on handsets using Opera Mini is most popular amongst the 18-27 year old demographic, but there is some interesting variation between countries. For example, 3 out of 10 Opera Mini users in the Ukraine are under 18 years old. Globally, 13.4% of Opera Mini users are under 18 years of age, 64.5% are 18-27 years of age, 16.7% are 28-37 years of age, 4.4% are 38-47 years of age, and 1% is more than 48 years of age

Here are the top 10 sites in the U.S. (unique users):

  1. www.google.com
  2. www.myspace.com
  3. www.yahoo.com
  4. www.wikipedia.org
  5. www.facebook.com
  6. www.nytimes.com
  7. www.youtube.com
  8. www.espn.com
  9. www.cnn.com
  10. www.accuweather.com

Usage is skewed 80-20 in favor of males. 73% of users are between 18-37.

Here are the top 10 sites in the U.K. (unique users):

  1. www.yahoo.com
  2. www.google.com
  3. news.bbc.co.uk
  4. www.facebook.com
  5. www.live.com
  6. www.youtube.com
  7. www.wikipedia.org
  8. www.bebo.com
  9. www.myspace.com
  10. www.ebay.co.uk

Here males represent 83% of Opera users, and roughly 72% fall within the 18-37 age range.

The high proportion of male users (vs. females) of the mobile Internet explains to some degree the high proportion of pornographic content being consumed. But as women buy more smartphones they'll begin to catch up to men in mobile Internet usage and other content categories will rise.

Online, women slightly outnumber men and they're a more important commercial audience than men for several reasons. According to U.S. government sources and the AFL-CIO, women are directly or indirectly responsible for 83% of all purchasing decisions.

WiMax (or LTE) Done Right Could Replace Conventional ISPs

While the standards/platform debate continues in the U.S. (WiMax vs. LTE), The Netherlands is deploying a WiMax system in Amsterdam with a plan to roll it out over the entire country. (Sprint/Clearwire is slated to roll out WiMax to selected markets in the Northeast U.S. this fall.)

The cost of developing/deploying the technology can be borne by consumers who will pay a monthly fee to receive access. It doesn't need to be ad-supported; or it could be ad-supported as a partial subsidy (think Google as ISP). Mobile WiMax or LTE (at some future point) is superior to existing ISPs because it can work at home or on the go for a single subscription fee, assuming providers don't make it cost prohibitive.

That would make devices like the iPod Touch a viable mobile device for people who don't want to use AT&T. It would also enable a new generation of Kindle-like devices that could take advantage of the connectivity. Traditional ISPs like cable companies might suffer in such a situation; however Comcast and TimeWarner cable are Clearwire investors. So, presumably, they would try and piggyback in some fashion on WiMax to prevent subscriber churn.

More on Nielsen's Mobile Search Data

Here's more detail from Nielsen on their latest round of US consumer data:

Mobile search market share:

1. Google (61%)
2. Yahoo! (18%)
3. MSN (5%)


  • Google: 9 searches per month
  • Yahoo! 6.7 searches per month

That compares with roughly 40-50 monthly searches on the desktop (per comScore)
Top content categories:

Top 3 Mobile Internet Search Categories for Q1 2008






Local Listings






These categories above are not clearly defined but interesting, given the way in which Google and Yahoo!'s own query analyses differ.

Yahoo!'s Potential Mobile Reach: 600 Million

Yahoo! said today that its 60 mobile partnerships give it a potential global reach of 600 million subscribers. To put that number in perspective, it's double the U.S. population and just over 80% of the population of Europe. And while no one really knows what the exact global figure is, consensus estimates put mobile subscribers at 3 billion worldwide. That means that Yahoo theoretically can reach one fifth of the world's addressable mobile market.

Impressive scale but the ad infrastructure isn't yet there to reach that potential audience.

Conflicting Data: Teens and Text Messaging

Earlier this year the Pew Internet Project published data that showed people in the US would hold onto their cellphones after they had given up other technology/electronics:

hard to give up

Today research firm OTX published results of a survey with teens that echoes those findings. Asked which they would rather give up, teens said the following:

  • Give up cell phone texting 71%
  • Give up Internet access 29%

These data immediately above seem in conflict with the Pew data above.

Loopt Now on Blackberry, Coming to iPhone

Loopt, one of the first mobile-only social networks, announced that it was available now on Blackberry:

Loopt, a revolutionary social-mapping and communication service, announced today that the location- based service is now available for free to BlackBerry users on the Sprint, Alltel, T-Mobile and AT&T networks. BlackBerry users can now share their location information with friends across multiple devices and carrier networks.

The company also has an iPhone version coming out. Right now there's limited usage among mobile subscribers of mobile social networking. But we see this (or social features on mobile apps) as a category with significant potential.

Interest in mobile social capabilities

Source: LMS/Multiplied Media, 2008 (n=862)

The questions revolve around whether the companies can rise above the noise in the sector and/or can hold out until the users show up. There's also the question of whether these firms can monetize their usage effectively. For the near term they'll have to tap into ad networks or other sources of locally targeted ad inventory.

However, the agencies and advertisers haven't yet caught up to the technology and its targeting capabilities. So the "inventory" doesn't yet exist for the super-targeting that mobile phones with GPS allow.

BIG: Cellphone Influence Highest with 18-24 Set

BIGResearch just released (via Marketing Charts) another of its Simultaneous Media Surveys (n=15K+). What the research found was that the influence of text messaging as an ad vehicle was relatively low, but highest among 18-24 year olds (US only):

Intent to purchase influence of SMS

The study also found the following:

  • Cell phones are much more likely to trigger an online search for young consumers than all adults (21.8% vs. 8.3%) as is text messaging (15.3% vs. 4.8%).
  • 18-24 year olds are more likely to download to a cell phone than the general market (31.6% vs. 15.9%).
  • More than half (50.5%) of 18-24-year-olds communicate with others about a service, product or brand via cell phone (compared with 29.6% of all adults), second only to face-to-face communication (66.9%).
  • 18-24-year-olds are also almost three times as likely to communicate through text messaging than all adults (30.7% v. 10.8%).

So clearly if the target audience is younger, text can be a highly effective ad medium.


See related data on teens and text messaging below.

iPhone Now on Cusp of iPod-Like 'Brand' Status

One of the success factors for the iPod was the fact that it emerged is the only "brand" in the MP3 player market. Despite the fact that there were many MP3 players that predated the iPod, Apple created the most user-friendly device at the time and then, when an eco-system grew up around it, the only brand in the segment.

Putting aside the third-party accessories, feature for feature there weren't so many things that were unique about the iPod vs. rivals like Creative's Zen player. But in the eyes of consumers there was really only one device: the iPod. Competing MP3 players became imitators or "wannabes" in the mind of the consumer. The iPod has about 70% of the market share for MP3 players in the US.

The iPhone appears to be heading in the same direction. A significant caveat in the U.S. is the AT&T exclusivity that could limit sales somewhat.

A BusinessWeek article this morning broadly and speculatively explores the impact of the iPhone on competing handset makers and carriers. We've already seen the market respond with various "iPhone killers," both in the market and yet to be released. On the growing list are the LG Voyager, HTC Touch (and Touch Diamond), Samung Instinct, Blackberry Thunder, Nokia Tube and so on. So far none have lived up to the promise of the label.

Sprint is running a Cinema/TV campaign in which the Instinct is favorably compared with the iPhone in quotes that appear on screen at the end: "An iPhone killer;" "Zippier download speeds than the iPhone." But that was the previous version of the iPhone they're talking about.

Recently, Walter Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal posted a mixed review of the Instinct that basically condemns it to "also-ran" status.

The more "iPhone clones" there are in the market the more the brand of the iPhone is reinforced as authentic compared with rival offerings, which become perceived as inauthentic or imitators in the same way that happened to MP3 players competing with the iPod.

There are devices in the market that feature touch screens and better cameras, browsers with flash support or other features not found on the iPhone. But nobody has yet developed the ecosystem around their phones that the iPhone has. This further differentiates the device and helps it stand out. Blackberry and Android, in particular, are very focused on creating an apps ecosystem. However, they've yet to bring them to market. The iPhone will likely have a lead of at least 6-8 months on rivals in that regard.

The only way for rival handset makers to shake off this growing "imitator" or "wannabe" perception is to actually build devices that outperform the iPhone across several key categories or present a next-level of innovation comparable to what the iPhone offered when it came into the market a year ago.

Both will prove very difficult indeed.


Related: T-Mobile to offer the iPhone for 1 Euro in Germany.

Samsung is making phones from plastics derived from corn; this could add a "green" cool factor that might appeal to certain market segments.

Nike's Innovative EU MMS Campaign

Nike is launching a very innovative campaign across Europe that prompts users to take photos of brightly colored images, send (MMS) them to Nike and be able to buy shoes featuring the two main colors in the image. It will be likely be a big success.

It targets the youthful audience that represents Nike's demographic and it will create tremendous buzz for the brand. Right now much of mobile advertising is about PR for the brand rather than actual results from the campaign.

Nike shoe

MMS address

Nielsen: Mobile Search Market Share Q1

Nielsen (via Ars Technica) reported Q1 2008 mobile search market share (U.S.) as follows:

  1. Google -- 61%
  2. Yahoo! -- 18%
  3. Microsoft -- 5%

Here's the Nielsen desktop search breakdown (4/08):

Nielsen search market share

In several proprietary surveys we've done over the past 6 months, we've asked people about their mobile search usage and we've seen widely varying results. We've seen Google score anywhere from 47% to 80% in terms of usage. We've seen Yahoo! at 20% to 40% and Microsoft score between 10% to 25%. These are people telling us what they use, not a market share calculation per se.

Basically our data shows the hierarchy of usage breaks out in the same order as on the desktop, which reflects how search brand affinity and familiarity on the desktop is translating into mobile.