According to a just released report by Jupiter Research, only 16% of U.S. subcribers are browsing the mobile web. According to the report, the low uptake is due primarily to lack of interest (73%) and the high cost (47%).
Messaging remains the major non-voice mobile activity, with about about one-third of subscribers surveyed having used either text or picture messaging once in the last six months.
The report also indicates that mobile video had only a 1% adoption rate in the mobile market.
Jupiter recommends that content providers need to offer easier access to things like news and video through mini applications such as widgets, and that media companies should make more of their assets more widely available on cell phones. (Not suprisingly the same argument that used to be made about media access on Internet).
Clearly we are just now at the jumping off point for the mobile web in the U.S. Other countries are already well ahead of us. In India, for example, 38% of users access the Internet via handheld devices and NOT on PCs. And carriers have not helped the situation by sticking with a walled garden approach to new features and content access.
But mobile web adoption will continue to climb as devices like the iPhone make the mobile experience more user friendly, and as carriers and content providers discover effective business models.
Most importanly, as efforts like Google’s Android offer open and available-to-any-phone mobile development platforms (allowing us to access information and rich media in the way that we can now only do on the wired web) things are likely to change significantly.
Why such a slow uptake on the mobile web? Because our cell phones and PDAs are still mostly cell phones and PDAs – just as computers used to be only computational and information storage devices. Today the computer is primarily an information access, sharing, and communications tool. The same type of usage shift is beginning to happen with handheld devices, but as the Jupiter report points out, we just ain’t there yet.