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Mobile Users Now and in the Future: A Snapshot

Ram Mohan

Like many of us in the technology industry, I am captivated by the growing adoption of mobile. It's changing multiple industries at a pace that would have seemed impossible just a few years ago.

And my own interest accelerated when Afilias acquired another Irish company named dotMobi. The dotMobi company was formed by fourteen industry heavyweights like Google, Microsoft and Nokia to manage the .MOBI domain, which was created to let users know that a site will work on a mobile device, regardless of the device type or network operator. And since a mobile domain is not useful without mobile sites, dotMobi developed a site-building tool called goMobi that is used globally by hundreds of thousands of site owners. Because of that, we have unique information about who is using the mobile Web, and how they're using it.

Meet the Typical User

Data from goMobi indicates that a typical user is a person based in the USA using an Apple device ... and he is hungry. We know that last bit because restaurants are the most visited type of goMobi site. Mobile users are also visiting — in order of popularity — retailers, general manufacturing and production companies, healthcare providers, including dentists and hygienists, and repair businesses, including garages and real estate agencies.

The average goMobi mobile site gets 131 visits each day. Given that goMobi site owners are generally small-to-medium sized businesses, having more than 100 prospective sales each day can be a major benefit to any business during these challenging economic times.

And given the ongoing dominance of Apple as the mobile Web device of choice, it's no surprise to know that the top three devices that visit goMobi sites are the iPhone, the iPad and the iPod Touch. Following those are the HTC Evo 4G, the Motorola DroidX and Droid Razr, Samsung Galaxy S2, RIM BlackBerry 9800 and 8520 Curve and Amazon Kindle Fire.

Notice that two tablet computers are among the top devices visiting mobile sites. That's something to consider closely when your tech team is deciding whether to classify a tablet as a mobile device or a streamlined desktop device when developing your websites.

Planning for the Future

As I wrote earlier this year, when it comes to mobile technology, it's to everyone's advantage to stay ahead of the curve. With that in mind, I want to put these goMobi statistics into a larger framework for comparison. One of most anticipated overviews of Internet trends is the one delivered on a regular basis by Mary Meeker of KPBC. In her most recent report, she noted that Android adoption has grown at four times the speed that the iPhone was adopted. But we still have a way to go.

Today, there are 953 million smartphone subscriptions globally, but 6.1 billion voice (and text) mobile phone subscriptions. That means we've just skimmed the surface of potential mobile Web users. So imagine the good news that will mean for potential sales when the 100-plus leads I mentioned above grow at an exponential rate. (And imagine how that will escalate even further once a unified system for mobile payments across platforms is solidified.)

And while the U.S. — along with China and Japan — have the most mobile Web users today, it looks like Brazil, India and Vietnam are where mobile technology adoption is occurring the most rapidly.

If you're responsible for your organization's IT infrastructure, these numbers matter (as do the trends underlying them). Mobility continues to grow and, more than ever, mobile-accessible sites are expected for businesses of all sizes. The quality of the user experience once they find your site on their mobile device is up to you.

By Ram Mohan, Executive Vice President & CTO, Afilias. Mr. Mohan brings over 20 years of technology leadership experience to Afilias and the industry.

Related topics: Mobile, Web

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