We’re all aware that mobile internet usage is on the increase. We can see evidence of this all around us every day. However, it’s not been possible to put a precise figure on the number of adults who own a mobile phone and use mobile internet. Well, not until now at least. The Office for National Statistics has now produced a survey which has found that nearly half of all adults in the UK are now going online via mobile phone data connections. The figures are based on a random selection of 1800 people across the country.
45 percent of the people surveyed stated that they used mobile internet services whilst they were ‘on the go’, as it were. This marks quite a dramatic increase over the preceding 12 month period: statistics for 2010 show the figure to be just over 31 percent for the year. These figures should be of interest to anyone involved in mobile website design. If any area needs to be targeted, it’s this one. As you would probably expect the most rapid rate of rise was seen in the 16 to 24-year-old age group. The figures also show that domestic internet usage also grew to 77 percent of all households, though the ONS points out that that rate of growth was significantly lower at a mere 4 percent, which represented the slowest rate of growth since 2006.
Of the remaining 23 percent without internet access, 50 percent claimed that they didn’t need it and were therefore not interested. This statement will make worrying reading for the government which has stated publicly its desire to get everyone online, particularly the 65+ age group. It’s so determined that it’s appointed the former dot-com entrepreneur, Martha Lane-Fox to spearhead its digital champions network, Raceonline2012, in a bid to increase internet uptake amongst the elderly.
As for the mobile revolution, well it continues to carry all before it. 3G has certainly helped in this by making internet access quicker and more effective, as has the incorporation of applications like AJAX into web designs. However, the ONS was keen to point out that these mobile connections were not to be taken in isolation: most people accessing the internet via mobiles were already connected online at home. They simply found mobile access more convenient and useful. 71 percent of the 16 to 24-year-old age group stated they used mobile broadband all the time: unfortunately this figure was significantly lower for the 65 +age group targeted by the Race Online programme. Only 8 percent of this age group used mobile broadband. The ONS also found that there had been a dramatic, 7-fold increase in the use of wifi hotspots, suggesting that the rise of 3G has done little to slow down the demand for free and paid-for wireless access.