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Report: Nearly 40 Percent Of Internet Time Now On Mobile Devices

Many marketers still treat mobile as a marginal or still-novel use case that they can afford to think about “later.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The device and Internet landscape have forever changed.

The PC is now just one of several pieces of hardware that people use to access the Internet, and increasingly, it won’t be the “primary” device. The PC will be “at work” or “in the other room.”

Consumer PC sales are flat and are unlikely to grow again in the future, absent some radical change (Surface probably ain’t it). In the past, people might have bought multiple PCs; now they’ll buy tablets and smartphones instead. That slightly older PC “still works just fine.” So there’s no need to upgrade every two years, especially when there are four other devices around to access the Internet.

The analogy I made at a conference last week was to email.

For a younger generation of users, SMS (or messaging) is the way they communicate, while email is perceived to be stodgy, even archaic. The same may become true of the PC — a device for selected uses and “old people.” It’s not that unlikely. (A decade or so from now wearable Internet devices might make smartphones look the same way.)

Source: comScore (2/13)

While 2011 was the long-awaited “year of mobile,” 2012 was a year in which all doubts about the disruptive impact of mobile should have been brushed aside. To that end, there are nice summaries of data on mobile device adoption and usage from both comScore and Nielsen in the form of two reports released yesterday.

ComScore predicts continued smartphone and tablet adoption, as well as “form factor” blurring. It also predicts mobile advertising becoming a “branding medium.” The firm is equally bullish on m-commerce and anticipates 4G adoption will enable more content consumption and new use cases.

Perhaps the most provocative graphic from the report is the one above that shows time spent on the Internet. It compares PC vs. mobile engagement. Accordingly, mobile is now almost 40 percent of time spent online. In addition Maps, Music, Weather and Social Networking are categories where people spend more time with mobile than on the PC.

It’s probably only a year or so away that the above chart looks much more 50/50 or even 60/40 in favor of mobile.

The Nielsen report offers similar data about hardware adoption and usage. However, it presents a global perspective and includes a wide range of countries beyond the US market. It also focuses in more detail on mobile advertising. Majorities of surveyed users around the world report seeing mobile ads “at least once a day.”

The chart below is a snapshot of users’ attitudes toward mobile advertising. Interestingly, large numbers, and even majorities of people, say they are willing to accept mobile advertising if it means free content or services. Overall, Indians seem most receptive to mobile ads in all their forms.

Source: Nielsen (2/13)

There’s much more information and discussion in the reports, which you can access here (comsScore) and here (Nielsen).

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About The Author

Greg Sterling
Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog, Screenwerk, about connecting the dots between digital media and real-world consumer behavior. He is also VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association. Follow him on Twitter or find him at Google+.