Gartner Predicts Mobile Web Beats PC by 2013

Among the many Gartner IT-related predictions the company asserts that mobile Web usage on a global basis will exceed that of the PC by 2013 -- three years from now:

By 2013, mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common Web access device worldwide. According to Gartner's PC installed base forecast, the total number of PCs in use will reach 1.78 billion units in 2013. By 2013, the combined installed base of smartphones and browser-equipped enhanced phones will exceed 1.82 billion units and will be greater than the installed base for PCs thereafter.

Mobile Web users are typically prepared to make fewer clicks on a website than users accessing sites from a PC. Although a growing number of websites and Web-based applications offer support for small-form-factor mobile devices, many still do not. Websites not optimized for the smaller-screen formats will become a market barrier for their owners — much content and many sites will need to be reformatted/rebuilt.

There's no question this is true in developing countries. However it's unlikely to be the case in the West.

Today there are approximately 198 million Internet users in the US; there are just over 70 million mobile Internet users. It's very likely that number will grow to 100 million at some point this year. Accordingly the mobile Internet audience will be roughly half of the PC Internet in the US. The numbers are probably comparable in Europe.

But the lesson is not whether the Garnter prediction is technically accurate. The lesson and takeaway is: prepare for the mobile Internet today. Because there will be a time relatively soon when a substantial amount of traffic -- if not the majority -- is coming from smartphones and other mobile devices.