Mobile Internet Traffic Increasing: What it Means for Testing

World of TomorrowOnce upon a time, the internet was something that lived on your desktop computer. Only accessible from that one – stationary – place, just where you left it … maybe even in two places if you had an internet connected computer at home AND at work. Those days are long gone. Now a growing number of people can access the internet from their computers (both desktop and laptop, almost always from home AND at work), their smartphones and, increasingly, tablets. These new devices have drastically changed the way we connect to the internet and has turned us into what comScore is calling “digital omnivores.” comScore recently released a study looking at how exactly we consume digital media via internet connected, non-computer devices. This is what they found:

An analysis of ten selected global markets in August 2011 showed a notable percentage of Internet traffic (measured as browser-based page views) coming from non-computer devices. Singapore led among those markets with more than 7 percent of all Internet traffic in the country coming from smartphones, tablets and other connected devices.

While mobile phones continue to be the main driver of non-computer traffic around the world, it is interesting to see tablets contributing a sizeable amount of traffic for a few mature technological markets. In Canada, tablets drove nearly 40 percent of all non-computer traffic

Non-Computer Internet Based Devices

One of the most interesting points in the study is that though 43% of U.S. consumers own a smartphone and only 11% own tablets, tablets account for almost 2% of all internet traffic in the U.S. That may not sound like a lot but it’s fairly significant considering how relatively new tablets are versus smartphones. Plus, that 2% is almost entirely attributable to the iPad (the Kindle Fire, which is hot on the iPad’s heels, hadn’t been released at the time of the study). Overall, when you combine the i-trifecta (Pad, Touch and Phone) iOS comes out as the dominate non-computer based browser.

Mobile Browsers

Another, perhaps most important, finding of the study is the time-of-day usage breakdown. comScore looked specifically at news consumption and found that people tended to consume news on their computer during work hours, on their tablets later in the evening or at night and on their smartphones throughout the day.

Mobile Consumption By Hour

comScore added this:

The variance in these daily patterns shows that consumers may favor some platforms over others at various points in the day, even as they use multiple platforms to consume different kinds of content throughout.

Honestly, that data isn’t very surprising. It makes sense that people would use their computers while they’re in front of them (i.e. at work). They’ll use their phones whenever, where ever. And the tablet is quick, easy and light to use while you’re on the couch at night. But what makes this the most important finding of the study is the ramifications for companies looking to get into the mobile content game.

You can’t put all your eggs in one basket with just one device, OS or carrier, because more and more people are using multiple devices throughout a single day. You need to ensure your app (whether native or mobile) works well on iOS and Android. That it’s easy to use and the correct resolution for phone screens (which themselves vary in size) and tablets. And as more and more smartphones and tablets come to market you need to keep testing.

Mobile web connections aren’t going to disappear and society isn’t going to revert back to a one size fits all desktop computer setup, so read through the study (or at least the breakdown) and keep an eye on the trends as you try to navigate the ever-evolving world of mobile internet.

Good luck!

Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

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