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Mobile is about to usurp the desktop as the world's favourite way to access the Internet



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2 November 2016 | 0

Billy MacInnesThe latest StatCounter figures for Internet usage make for interesting reading.

First of all, if you’re a business of any type interested in selling abroad beyond Europe and North America, you would be well-advised ensuring that your Web presence is optimised for mobile browsing. According to StatCounter, more mobile devices accessed the Internet in Africa and Asia than desktop computers. In Africa, the combined traffic from mobiles and tablets was 63.5% (with 60.68% from mobiles) and the figure for Asia was 64.28%.

More notable is the fact that Africa and Asia are leaders in a global shift in favour of mobile devices for accessing the Internet over desktops. According to StatCounter, October 2016 was the first time that the combined global traffic from mobiles and tablets (53.47%) surpassed that of desktops. This is despite the fact that Web browsing in the West (Europe and North America) is still skewed in favour of desktops (64.3% in Europe and 57.97% in the US). Nevertheless, the trend is shifting towards mobile devices.

Here in Ireland, mobile and tablets are closing in on desktops (57.63%) and it surely can’t be that much longer before it catches up with the worldwide figures. The UK is slightly further along the road with desktop accounting for 55.6%. The figures suggest that we have long passed the stage where mobile is an after-thought. These figures merely serve to reinforce the arguments of those who have urged companies to focus on mobile as one of their key IT and business trends.

The bias in favour of mobile is also reflected in the figures for desktop, tablet and console browsers which show Chrome rose from 53% in September 2015 to just over 59% in October 2016. Safari usage also increased slightly from 9.15% to 10.23%. By contrast, Firefox declined from just under 16% to 13.29% and IE dropped from 15.71% to 8.9%. Microsoft Edge was the least used of the top five, although it grew from 0.96% to 2.83%.

Aodhan Cullen, CEO at StatCounter, said the figures “should be a wake up call, especially for small businesses, sole traders and professionals to make sure that their websites are mobile friendly. Many older websites are not”.

He pointed out that mobile compatibility was becoming increasingly important, especially as Google favours mobile friendly websites for its mobile search results. The latest figures suggest that it won’t be that long before it makes sense for the Internet search giant to favour mobile friendly websites for all search results. So not only should businesses be doing their best to ensure their websites are mobile friendly, they might have no choice if they want to perform well in search results.

With the website often described as the shopfront for the organisation, StatCounter’s figures provide many partners with an opening to help persuade customers to begin to take the effects of mobile usage and the effects it could have on their business much more seriously. These figures show we have reached a tipping point globally and it won’t be much longer before the same happens here in Ireland.

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