Mobile internet use passes desktop for the first time, study finds

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More users around the world are accessing the internet from mobile devices than from desktop computers for the first time, according to internet monitoring firm StatCounter. The combined traffic from mobile and tablet devices tipped the balance at 51.2 percent, vs. 48.7 percent for desktop access, marking the first time this has happened since StatCounter began tracking stats for internet usage.

It’s a huge moment for the web overall: this means going forward, companies that haven’t yet decided to focus on a mobile-first approach to their internet services and web properties really should, as the trend line is unlikely to reverse.

StatCounter also found that the maturity of the market impacts which is the dominant means of access, and as you might have guessed, mobile platforms are far and away the method of choice for internet access when it comes to emerging markets like India, where they account for 75 percent of use. More mature markets including the UK, the US and Ireland still see use swinging in favor of desktop, but the trend is still showing a narrowing gap.

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This is not surprising news, given other recent milestones. In April last year, for instance, comScore found that the number of internet users who employ mobile platforms exclusively has surpassed those who only connect via desktop in the US (this doesn’t consider users who access via both methods). And Google revealed that more searches through its engine are being conducted via mobile platforms than on desktop as of last May.

This may have been a long time coming, but it’s still astounding how many major brands (including possibly our own) favor the desktop first and prioritize mobile web second. Maybe now that this tipping point has been achieved, that will start to change a lot faster.