U.S. Takes Top Nod For Mobile Internet Usage: Report

Matt Kapko
Tuesday, July 8, 2008; 8:00 PM

Contrary to popular opinion, Americans do love the mobile web and use it in spades. The U.S. takes the top nod on mobile internet penetration among subscribers in 16 countries, according to a new report by Nielsen Mobile (PDF). The firm found that 15.6 percent of U.S. wireless subscribers use the internet on their mobile devices. The U.K. follows just behind at 12.9 percent while Italy took the third spot at an 11.9 percent penetration rate. "In the 16 countries we looked at, the U.S. is tops in terms of penetration and I would say that surprises me at this point," said Nic Covey, the firm's director of insights.

Some other interesting findings:

-- The average customer pays $11 a month for mobile web, up from an average of $9.22 a year ago.

-- In May, at least 40 million wireless subscribers accessed the internet from mobile device, however that's still less than half the 95 million customers who already pay for access to the service in one form or another. Covey: "We've seen this trend for a while now ? We don't see that so much from other mobile media types."

-- Top devices for accessing the mobile web in the U.S.: Motorola ( NYSE: MOT) RAZR/RAZR2 (10 percent), Apple ( NSDQ: AAPL) iPhone (4 percent), RIM ( NSDQ: RIMM) BlackBerry 8100 series (2 percent), RIM BlackBerry 8800 series (2 percent) and Motorola Q series (2 percent).

-- Top mobile web devices in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and U.K.: Nokia ( NYSE: NOK) N95 (5 percent), Nokia N70 (4 percent), Motorola RAZR/RAZR2 (3 percent), Sony ( NYSE: SNE) Ericsson ( NSDQ: ERIC) K800i (3 percent) and Nokia N73 (3 percent).

-- The U.S. mobile internet audience is almost evenly split between those over the age of 35 (48 percent) and those under the age of 35 (52 percent). Additionally, there are approximately as many teenagers using the mobile Internet as there are persons over the age of 55 (5.1 million persons age 13-17 and 4.4 million persons 55 and older).

-- The audience was still slightly more male than female--56 percent male and 44 percent female. The male bias of mobile internet use is consistent across markets and is most pronounced in Germany, where 75 percent of mobile Internet users are male. In general, Internet users in European markets skew more male than those in the U.S.

Nielsen Mobile concludes that the market has matured enough to warrant advertising dollars to follow in stride. Covey: "The adoption and the experience are improving at an impressive rate. I think marketers need to continue to be convinced to take the leap into the mobile internet."

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