Saturday 19 August 2017

Mobiles taking over from PCs in Irish web usage

Are we paying too much attention to Google's so-called 'Mobilegeddon'? Just how important are searches on mobile phones, anyway?

The answer is that mobiles are fast replacing PCs for most of our internet usage.

The latest research on Irish online habits show a surge in smartphone web use, almost entirely at the expense of PCs. Two years ago, 79pc of all web activity here was on PCs, with just 13pc on phones. Today, that has narrowed to just 57pc on PCs and 33pc on mobiles. (Tablet web use has stayed largely unchanged at between 8pc and 10pc.)

These figures are based on Dublin-based web analytics firm Statcounter's tracking of 7.2m web page views in Ireland. If anything, they probably understate the switch from PC to mobile, as they do not include use of phone apps (such as Facebook, Twitter or even Google's own iPhone app).

In other words, if your website is aimed mainly at computers and not mobiles, you're chasing a shrinking audience.

And there is no doubt who dominates web search, either. Forget about Bing or Yahoo: Google is the only show in town. According to Statcounter, it is responsible for 96pc of searches on mobile devices in Ireland. So if visibility from online search is a significant factor for your business's discoverability, you must comply with what Google does. (There are some competitive problems with this state of affairs, with The European Commission currently investigating Google for abuse of this monopoly position.)

Statcounter's research throws up some other interesting statistics regarding Irish mobile web usage. For example, it shows that Google Android handsets have overtaken iPhones as the most used devices for web activity, with 57pc of phones' web activity compared to 39pc for iPhones. This is a sea-change in the industry: while iPhones have always sold less then combined Android rivals, they have traditionally been used for more advanced functions such as web use and ecommerce. (The Statcounter figures do not look at monetisation of apps or purchases by phone ecosystem, where Apple is still believed to be ahead.)

In terms of individual brands, Ireland remains a two-horse race. Apple still has an outright lead in web usage here, with 39pc of the market compared to 32pc for Samsung. HTC and Sony are a distant third and fourth, with 8pc and 6pc of the market, respectively.

The figures show that Microsoft (formerly Nokia) smartphones are largely irrelevant in web usage here, with just 3pc of activity. This is just ahead of newcomer Huawei (2pc). Meanwhile, BlackBerry is all but dead as a functional smartphone in Ireland, with 0.2pc of web activity.

It's a different story in the world of tablets. While sales of cheap Android tablets may now match iPads in Ireland, web activity does not. 75pc of online tablet usage here comes from iPads, with just 21pc from Android machines.

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