The US was crowned top country for mobile Internet browsing last week by the press, as mobile analytics company Bango released its latest figures, overtaking the UK. But can we say with certainty that the US is number one and UK is number two?
It isn’t surprising that the press leaps on news like this. We’re all desperate for statistics. So data kindly provided by companies that are, or which claim to be top dog in their field is as good as it gets. This includes monthly data from Bango, the most commonly-used mobile analytics package, Opera Mini, the most popular mobile browser, and AdMob, the most extensive mobile advertising network.
These are all excellent resources, but do we do them a disservice by not reporting them in context? None claim to have visibility beyond what’s happening in its own world, and since none have dominant global market share, and their coverage focuses on their core geographical markets, should we map their figures onto the global mobile Internet as a whole?
The context for the Bango figures is: US visitors accounted for 29 percent of traffic and 57 percent of mobile transactions on mobile sites that use Bango analytics and payments. Until Bango has a perfect spread of clients across all geographies (i.e. as many sites in Asia and Latin America as the US and Europe), it’s difficult to state, with conviction, that the US is 29 percent of all global mobile traffic or 57 percent of all global mobile transactions. It may be true, but it sounds pretty incredible.
Similarly, AdMob’s Mobile Metrics Report only proves – the company discourages any other interpretation – that AdMob serves more mobile adverts to phones in the USA (43 percent of total requests), while Opera’s State of the Mobile Web proves Opera Mini is a more popular browser in Russia and Indonesia, than other countries. Draw your own conclusions from the tables below.
Browsing vs. payments
With that reality check in place, it’s interesting to note the differences between the Top 10 browsing and payment countries in Bango’s lists. This indicates that while mobile browsing is popular in countries such as India and Indonesia, they are less inclined or less able to pay for content over their handset – possibly influenced by lack of disposable income or the unavailability of mobile payment schemes.
Bango has seen considerable growth in mobile payments in the US, as mobile operators make it easier for customers to pay: “This trend started in Europe four years ago and, in the UK, where Payforit is mandated by all operators, mobile payments are very much a mobile Web experience. The US has been slower to make this change but now that Sprint, AT&T, Virgin Mobile and shortly T-Mobile support WAP billing, the content industry in the US has moved to a more streamlined, safer payment experience for their end users with fewer customer-service issues,” said Sarah Keefe, vice president, marketing, Bango.
|Visits to mobile sites using Bango analytics/payments in February 2009|
|Browsing||Payments||Top mobile networks,
|4||Indonesia||South Africa||AT&T, USA|
|5||South Africa||Sweden||Satelindo, Indonesia|
|8||Spain||Finland||MTN, South Africa|
|9||Portugal||Germany||3, UK||10||Sweden||Belgium||Verizon, USA|
Here’s an eye-opening statistic for companies that want their mobile site to look its best, whatever the handset: Bango detected 1,811 different types of handsets accessing the mobile Internet last month. See the top 20 handsets here… it’s not necessarily what we’ve been led to expect.
Bango has also released this promotional video to help underline the importance to mobile sites of using analytical tools to establish who their visitors are, their country, operator and handset. There’s also a strangely mesmerizing live feed of Bango data here.
For reason of comparison, here are the most recent Top 10 surfing countries for Bango, Opera Mini and AdMob. Individually these show that Bango’s customers receive most visits from mobiles in the US and UK; Opera Mini is used by more folks in Russia and Indonesia than elsewhere; and AdMob serves more mobile adverts to phones in the USA (considerably more than elsewhere).
|Top countries for:|
|Customers browsing Bango sites (Feb 2009)||Opera Mini users accessing the mobile Web (Jan 2009)||Handset requests for AdMob adverts (Jan 2009)|
|6||Egypt||South Africa||South Africa|
Taken in context, data from Bango, Opera and Admob can be very useful, but the view of a single company, even the biggest in each fragmented business, can’t really be taken to be a true indication of worldwide global mobile Internet usage. This can only really come through industry-wide co-operation. Don’t hold your breath.
Comment below or email editor (at) mobiThinking.com.
Latest guide and case study: