Mobile Web Usage Still Held Back by Screen Size, Speed and Cost

In February Antenna Software put out its second annual Mobile Internet Attitudes survey findings. The survey polled "a representative sample of 2,296 consumers, aged 18+ in the UK and 2,079 in the US."

Daily mobile Internet usage is growing but held back somewhat by an overall poor user experience (vs. the PC), slow rendering and perceptions of cost, according to the survey. 

The survey found that "one in five Americans use the mobile Internet every day." However 44% "failed to use the mobile Internet, despite having access to it on their mobile phone." Emarketer has a nice chart summarizing the usage frequency data from this survey (US only in the chart): 

http://www.emarketer.com/images/chart_gifs/125001-126000/125508.gif

Antenna found that UK mobile users are slightly more active than US users: 34% of UK mobile users and 33% of US mobile users access the Internet at least once a week, up from 27% and 28% (respectively) in 2010.

Beyond this, 44% of US users said that they would use the mobile Internet more regularly if it were "similar to using the Internet on their personal computer" -- in other words, offered an overall better user experience. Here are the complaints according to the survey: 

Poor rendering and small screens:

  • 27% of Americans and an equal share of British users were "discouraged from using the mobile Internet by websites that don’t display properly on their mobile screens" and half of adults 18 to 24 complained about websites that didn't render well
  • 28% of U.S. and 32% of British consumers cite difficulty in navigating websites on a mobile device as a reason for not accessing the mobile Internet
  • 44% of men said the small size of mobile screens discouraged them from using the internet, vs. 38% of women.

Speed:

  • 36% of men said the mobile Internet was too slow vs. 29% of women
  • Users under 45 years old complained about speed; those under 55 were frustrated by the size of mobile web displays

Cost:

  • 33% Americans and 39% of British consumers believe that accessing the mobile Internet is too expensive

Speed will improve with 4G, although I don't share that criticism of the mobile Interent. Screen sizes won't get much larger on smartphones but tablets, especially 7" tablets, may address that issue for many people. The cost factor unfortunately is just getting more complicated for consumers.

As carriers try to migrate to usage-based pricing they create confusion and inhibit usage of the mobile Internet, which is their intention. Consumers don't really understand what the usage tiers and data limits mean; they want unlimited usage pricing. Carriers are moving -- or seeking to move -- in the opposite direction. Here's to hoping they're thwarted by competition.