Thursday, 31 May 2018

The Guardian/Samuel Gibbs: Mobile web browsing overtakes desktop for the first time

The Guardian
Smartphones
Mobile web browsing overtakes desktop for the first time

Smartphones and tablets become king as the share of desktop web browsing traffic shrinks to 48.7%, according to data

Samuel Gibbs

Wed 2 Nov 2016 11.20 GMT
Last modified on Tue 21 Feb 2017 17.11 GMT

This article is over 1 year old
Mobile web has now overtaken desktop browsing worldwide.
Mobile web has now overtaken desktop browsing worldwide. Photograph: Sean Anderson for the Guardian

Mobile devices are used more than traditional computers for web browsing, as smartphone and tablet use overtook desktop for the first time, October figures show.

Mobile web browsing has been steadily growing since 2009, while the desktop’s share of web traffic has steadily decreased. In October, the two crossed over, with global mobile and tablet browsing accounting for 51.3% versus the desktop’s 48.7%, according to the latest data from web analytics firm StatCounter.

Aodhan Cullen, chief executive of StatCounter, said: “This should be a wake up call especially for small businesses, sole traders and professionals to make sure that their websites are mobile friendly. Many older websites are not.

“Mobile compatibility is increasingly important not just because of growing traffic but because Google favours mobile-friendly websites for its mobile search results.”

Despite following a similar downward trend, the desktop is still king in some parts of the world. In the UK, the desktop accounts for 55.6% of browsing, 58% in the US and 55.1% in Australia, according to StatCounter, but it seems only a matter of time before they follow the global trend, with mobile taking the majority of web browsing.

The Guardian’s data indicates that an on an average weekday, just over 40% of visitors to the site are reading on a desktop, while that number drops to just under 30% on a weekend. The rest are using a combination of mobile browsers on a tablet and smartphone, or the Guardian mobile app.

Google identified the trend towards mobile browsing several years ago and has since accelerated the shift with changes to its search favouring mobile. It began ranking sites within its search index by mobile accessibility in 2015 and recently made a change making mobile search potentially more up to date than desktop.

At the same time, PC sales have been in decline for years, while smartphones have reached at least 80% saturation within most developed markets and have become the sole point of access to the internet for many in developing nations.

    Google hides URLs in mobile web search results

Topics

    Smartphones

    Tablet computers
    Mobile phones
    Computing
    Web browsers
    Internet
    news

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