Mobiles to eclipse PCs for net access

mobile phonePA

Use of the internet via mobile devices is set to overtake access via desktop computers by 2015. That's according to new research which reckons 40% of the entire population of the planet will be online within three years. And this growth will change the shape of the net, and our world.
The number of mobile internet users in the US is forecast to grow by an annual compound rate of 16.6% in research carried out by market intelligence agency IDC. The rate of growth will be slightly, but not much, lower in western Europe and Japan.

IDC estimates that the number of people using the internet worldwide will grow from the current 2 billion to 2.7 billion by 2015. Global B2B ecommerce spending will grow from the current level of $708bn to $1,285bn in 2015, a compound annual growth rate of 12.7%.

Online spend

And worldwide online advertising spend will increase from $70bn this year to £183bn in 2015. That will take the total share of advertising across all platforms commanded by the online sector to 17.8%, up from the current level of 11.9%.

Tablet use in particular will be a driving force behind the increasing prevalence of mobile internet access. Factor in the popularity of the smartphone and the growth of cloud-based content and tools and the trend is unmistakeable. And that means some deep changes in a still young industry.

IDC's Karsten Weide said: "Forget what we have taken for granted on how consumers use the Internet. Soon, more users will access the Web using mobile devices than using PCs, and it's going to make the Internet a very different place."

Steve Jobs

One of the last thing's Apple's Steve Jobs did before he stepped down was to back the notion of a "post-PC era". And Mary Meeker of tech venture capitalists Kleiner Perkins has talked about the world entering "a fifth computing cycle".

We had mainframe computing in the 1940s and 50s; mini-computing in the 70s; PCs in the 80s; desktop computing in the 90s and now we're moving into the mobile computing era. And that means optimising content and products for mobile is going to be vital.

What does that mean? In a nutshell, tailoring content and advertising messages by using consumer location, preference and context. That is going to offer more opportunity for us to gain information – and of course to spend money. It's also going to raise more fears over privacy and security.

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