Mobile Statistics

Mobile is showing continued and rapid growth across a wide range of metrics: sales, internet usage (especially search), advertising, e-commerce, and social networking. Around the end of 2016 we reached the mobile tipping point: more users were accessing the web using mobile devices than desktop devices. Many users don’t have access to a fixed-line or a desktop computer, so their mobile device is their only access to the internet.

Mobile use in South Africa is particulary high. The split of types of devices is very different from the rest of the world, too: BlackBerry devices are still in use here, and Nokia's range of featurephones running their Series 40 and Symbian operating systems are still used by many people. Smartphone usage is increasing, but there will always be a category of lowered-powered, lower-tech devices that we need to cater for: most people aren't using the latest, greatest, high-priced hardware.

Many more detailed statistics are available from the sources listed below.

What we should do about it

Given that mobile web access is increasingly popular, we should be building sites that work on low-power devices with slow network connections (and work great on high-power devices with fast network connections). One of the big questions is: how do we do rigorous testing on mobile?

Doing so is good for developers because it helps our sites reach as many people, on as many devices, as possible. The focus that designing and developing for mobile brings also helps us produce lighter, leaner, sites.

Testing on mobile is also good for our clients. If their customers aren’t already using their site on mobile, they will be soon. Mobile offers a new channel, and new opportunities for businesses to connect with their existing customers and to pull in new ones.

It's good for our users because they get a better experience as the result of our testing, sometimes taking a site from unusable to usable.

Statistics sources

A “Comprehensive” Guide to Mobile Statistics by Jason Grigsby of Cloud Four provides a great starting point for research and statistics sources.

The Writings section of Luke Wroblewski’s site provides excellent, regular, details of mobile-related news, amongst other things.

The folks at ZURB have an excellent stats library: Design Quips from ZURB.

A brief list of sources used for the statistics above: