Mobile Internet Users Will Soon Surpass PC Internet Users Globally

By Susan Huynh, Forecast Analyst

Recently I published a forecast about mobile subscriptions and mobile subscribers (people) by region, worldwide. In 2012, more than half of the world’s population — around 4.3 billion people — will own at least one mobile handset. In emerging markets, where the penetration of landline phone connections has been low, the adoption of mobile phones has soared over the past five years. Mobile handsets are able to provide a cheaper and more convenient means of telecommunications access.  They are breaking down barriers to entry — and have been received with welcoming hands and ears.

In the recently published Forrester Research World Mobile Adoption Forecast, 2011 To 2016 (Global), we break down the numbers and growth drivers for the adoption of mobile Internet across the globe. Many consumers who have not been able to go online will now get the opportunity to access the Internet due to declining mobile data costs. About a fifth of the world’s mobile subscribers are currently using their mobile handsets to go online. According to our research, the global penetration of mobile Internet users will exceed that of PC-based Internet users in 2016.

Not surprisingly, we believe that emerging markets will drive the adoption levels of not only mobile telephony but also Internet access through these mobile devices. Half of new mobile Internet users in Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East are from Brazil and Sub-Saharan Africa. India and China will account for 80% of all mobile Internet user growth in Asia Pacific. Access to the Internet through a mobile handset is predominantly incremental in emerging markets, whereas it is supplementary in developed markets. For companies looking to reach global customers, the mobile Internet is just an additional channel in mature markets but is the chief point of entry in many emerging markets.