Content Strategy, Mobile

State of the mobile web — sources

These are my favorite data points about how we’re using the mobile web today. I get asked for these sources a lot, so I’ve aggregated them all here.

91% of American adults own a mobile phone.

56% of American adults are now smartphone owners—79% of Americans 18-24, 81% aged 25-34, and 69% aged 35-44 own a smartphone.

63% of mobile phone owners say they use their phone to access the internet—74% of Black Americans, 68% of Hispanic Americans, and 85% of young adults aged 18-29 say they use the internet on a smartphone:

34% of current mobile internet users mostly go online using their phone. That’s 21% of all mobile phone owners. 11% of mobile internet users say they use their phone and other devices equally.

Blacks, Hispanics, low-income Americans, less-educated Americans, and young adults are more likely to be mobile-only users.

50% of teen smartphone owners aged 12-17 and 50% of young adults aged 18-29 say they use the internet mostly on their mobile phone.

Amazon, Wikipedia, and Facebook all see about 20% of their traffic from mobile-only users, according to comScore.

46% of shoppers reported they exclusively use their mobile device to conduct pre-purchase research for local products and services.

77% of mobile searches take place at home or work, only 17% on-the-go, according to Google.

90% of people start a task on one device, then complete it on another, according to Google. It’s especially high in  categories like retail (67%), financial services (46%), and travel (43%).

86% of mobile internet users (and 92% of mobile internet users aged 13-24) say they use their mobile devices while watching television.

44 of the Fortune 100 don’t have a mobile website AT ALL. Only 6 comply with Google’s mobile SEO requirements.

Google reports that only 21% of large advertisers have a mobile-optimized website.

Only 16% of consumer brands have a mobile strategy, so it’s no surprise that only 14% are happy with the results.

80% of B2B media companies take an ad hoc approach to mobile, only 33% have a mobile-optimized site.

McKinsey estimates that 2 to 3 billion people will come online globally through the mobile internet over the next decade, generating annual economic impact of $3.7 trillion to $10.8 trillion globally by 2025.

More from me

Don’t just take my word for it, take my word for it in these publications:

Don’t Let Paper Paradigms Drive Your Digital Strategy, Harvard Business Review

The rise of the mobile only user, Harvard Business Review

The alternative is nothing, A List Apart

Windows on the web, A List Apart

Your content, now mobile, A List Apart

Uncle Sam wants you (to optimize your content for mobile), A List Apart

Buy my book! Content Strategy for Mobile


13 thoughts on “State of the mobile web — sources

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  10. /gst says:

    Sorry Karen, should have made my point more clearly. Not one of the stats in the headlines mentions the 55+ group. Granted, info on that group may be buried in the reports. I quit looking for it long ago because it’s so danged hard to find.

    Seems odd that the group with the most disposable income gets so little attention. Marketer of some renown, and author, Bob Hoffman, has been chastising marketers for some time about their reluctance to market to the people who have the most money to spend, and spend it more than any other age group. Here’s one such post: He has many other posts about the subject if one searches the archives.

    I’m not sensitive to this disparity only because I recently became one of “them”, but also because my wife and I have worked nearly exclusively with the 55+ group since 1983 (my wife is an audiologist). During the last three years we’ve seen a dramatic shift towards patients who prefer to communicate with my wife exclusively by text and email via their smartphones (about two thirds of her total). A third of her new patients make first contact by pecking an inquiry in their smartphone.

    Grandpa and grandma still prefer to talk with their kids and grandkids by calling them, but beyond that many are opting for text conversations with the businesses they deal with.

    It seems Bob is on to something.

  11. Karen McGrane says:

    These are stats I have tweeted or otherwise cited in my talks, and I pulled them out here for easy reference for people who have asked for them or might otherwise find them useful. While mobile usage by older adults is an important topic, my focus this year has been on mobile-only usage, particularly looking at other populations like Black, Hispanic, low-income, and disabled Americans who disproportionately rely on their mobile devices for connectivity.

    Only 11% of internet users aged 50+ are mobile-only, which means they have access to the desktop web. Which means they’re not that relevant to the argument I’m trying to make. Not because older adults aren’t important, but because mobile-only usage is important–even if it’s something that older adults don’t do.

    Whenever I hear someone saying “you didn’t cover this subject the way I wish you had covered it” I’m inclined to respond “Why don’t you write about it then?” Since this is a topic you seem interested in, please do look at the Pew Research numbers on Smartphone Ownership and Cell Internet Use. The demographic breakdowns (including age) are on the first page of those reports so they should not be hard to find.

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