Mobility

Mobile has officially passed desktop as the top source of web traffic worldwide

Research from StatCounter Global Stats found that 51.3% of internet usage last month came from mobile devices, opposed to 48.7% from desktop. Here's why it matters.

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Image: iStockphoto/Pinkypills

More users are accessing the internet from smartphones and tablets than from desktops for the first time ever worldwide, according to new findings from StatCounter Global Stats. According to the research, 51.3% of internet usage in October 2016 came from mobile devices, while 48.7% came from desktop access.

The shift to mobile as the main way users access the internet has been predicted multiple times over the past few years, but StatCounter's research seems to show that it has finally happened. In early 2015, Google said that more search queries were coming from mobile than desktop. Also, in April 2016, a comScore report seemed to indicate that use of mobile devices for consuming digital media was accelerating as well.

The full stats from StatCounter's findings break down like this: Desktop usage is 48.74%, while mobile (which I assume is only smartphones) is 46.53%, and tablets account for 4.73% of internet usage. Mobile and tablet combine for 51.26%.

SEE: Mobile device computing policy template (Tech Pro Research)

So, if you're an IT or business leader looking for ammunition to get your mobile project approved, this is the research you are looking for. However, if you don't currently have a mobile strategy, or don't have plans for one, you could be setting your organization up for failure.

"This 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," StatCounter CEO Aodhan Cullen, said in a press release.

As noted in StatCounter's web page announcing the results, Google is increasingly prioritizing mobile pages as well. This is another incentive for enterprises to more fully embrace mobile.

Even though mobile is on the rise, certain markets like the US and the UK still prioritize desktop access over mobile. For example, the UK market rates desktop access at 55.6% with mobile and tablet access measures at 44.4%. Additionally, the US market sees 58% of internet usage from desktop and only 42% from mobile.

However, as the UK moves forward with its exit from the European Union, its focus on desktop could be problematic, experts said.

"Post-Brexit, UK businesses should be aware, as they look to increase trade outside the EU, that India for example has over 75% internet usage through mobile devices," Cullen said in the press release.

Additionally, as countries around the world begin to open up spectrum and test technologies to enable 5G mobile networks, the use of mobile devices to access the internet is likely to increase even more.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. According to recent StatCounter Global Stats research, worldwide internet usage on mobile surpassed desktop internet usage in October 2016.
  2. The findings are a "wake up call," according to StatCounter CEO Aodhan Cullen, for businesses who haven't yet fully embraced mobile as the next generation platform for work.
  3. Some countries still are more focused on desktop, but that could cause problems for the UK, for example, as it looks to expand trade after Brexit, the press release said.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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