Nielsen: UK Mobile Web Growing “8x Faster” Than PC Internet

Nielsen released some UK mobile usage data yesterday that are very interesting on a number of fronts. The highest-level findings reflect that in the UK the mobile internet is growing much faster than the PC internet (8x) and that the average age of mobile users is younger than online.

There are now more than 7 million mobile internet users in the UK according to Nielsen. That compares with more than 40 million in the US.

The mobile internet audience is about 20 percent the size of the UK online audience. In the US, where the raw numbers are much larger in both categories, the proportion is roughly the same — the mobile internet audience is about 22 percent of the total online population.

Here are some of the numbers Nielsen released:

  • From Q2 to Q3 2008, the number of Britons using mobile Internet increased by 25% (from 5.8 to 7.3 million) compared to 3% for PC-based Internet (34.3 to 35.3 million Britons)
  • The mobile Internet audience has a higher concentration of younger users than PC-based Internet; 25% of mobile Internet consumers are aged 15-24 compared to 16% for PC-based consumers. Whilst, 23% of the PC-based Internet population is 55+, only 12% of the mobile Internet audience is

Compare UK audience size and growth for mobile and online (3 percent online vs. 25 percent in mobile):

Source: Nielsen (11/08)

What’s also interesting is that Nielsen said that some of the popular UK sites it’s tracking actually have greater reach in mobile than online (percentages in the chart represent audience reach):

Source: Nielsen (11/08)

BBC Weather, Sky sports and Gmail actually have greater usage in mobile. As you can see from the chart above, the greatest discrepancy between mobile and online is with Google. According to Nielsen:

“Whilst Google Search is the most popular PC-based Internet site, on mobile Internet BBC News is the most popular, being visited by 24% of British mobile Internet consumers (1.7 million people).”

The only explanation here can be that UK users simply don’t proportionately search as much in mobile as they do online. (There are other data that do show lots of mobile search usage and frequency.) But this finding and the greater mobile reach of some mobile sites is fascinating.

All the data coming out from the various research houses support the idea that search marketers need to think about mobile now and take it seriously because it will only grow as a source of traffic. It’s all but certain that eventually we’ll see more global search volume from mobile devices than online. The only question is when.

Related Topics: Channel: Mobile | Features: Analysis | Search Engines: Mobile Search Engines | Stats: NetRatings | Stats: Popularity | Stats: Search Behavior | Stats: Size


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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