Metrics firm comScore just released some compelling new data about mobile Internet access and usage in the US market. First among the findings is that more than 63 million people are using their handsets to go online at some point during a given month, representing 71% growth over last year.
In addition, the size of the daily audience according to comScore has more than doubled from last year to just over 22 million people.
Most intriguing to me is the finding that 70 percent of those accessing the mobile internet are doing so on "feature phones." If we could plot frequency on a continuum, the feature phone owners would be toward the monthly end of the spectrum, while smartphone owners would be on the weekly or daily end. Most feature phone owners don't have a data plan and cost uncertainty probably limits their frequency (not to mention the awkwardness of the user experience).
According to comScore, much of feature phone owners' content access is coming via SMS.
The company identified the fastest growing categories for daily activity, which cross the 15 million monthly uniques threshold:
Here's comScore's content-access table:
Finally, comScore said that in January of this year, "22.3 million people accessed news and information via a downloaded application. Maps are the most popular downloaded application with 8.2 million users."
None of this is surprising to us. The speed with which it's happening is quite accelerated. It would be even more so in a better economy. And, as we indicate above and have argued many times, pricing is a big driver of all these behaviors. Cheaper data plans equals more mobile Internet access. But the 70% feature phone number above indicates a kind of pent-up demand for better experiences and more regular access.
So if 35% are accessing the mobile Internet daily today, expect that number to be 50% in a year.