56% Connect To Public Wi-Fi With Mobile Device

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

Mobile use continues on the rise, according to the Q4 2009 Mobile Audience Insights Report from San Francisco-based JiWire, the mobile audience media company that reaches over 20 million unique users per month.

The report looks at device use, consumer adoption of Wi-Fi and the browsing behavior of people who access the Internet in public locations such as airports, hotels and cafés. It shows that nearly half of users make purchases online while out of home and out of office, and are doing so on a broad range of devices – indicating a rapidly changing dynamic of how people are engaging with digital media.

The use of Wi-Fi enabled mobile devices in public hotspot locations continues to increase, with 56% of respondents reporting they connect via their smartphone or other mobile device – and for 14%, a mobile device is the primary means to connect to public Wi-Fi.

Google’s Android jumped to second place in the popularity ranking of mobile operating systems in Q4 of 2009, with 167% growth in market share. Apple devices including the iPhone and iPod Touch remain the most popular; however, overall market share for the iPhone OS declined 2% in the fourth quarter. The report shows that usage of non-phone mobile devices, such as the Sony PSP, continues to grow among public Wi-Fi users. Three out of the top t10 mobile devices used on public Wi-Fi aren’t phones.

“With the proliferation of mobile devices, more people are accessing the Internet outside their homes and offices, whether on a mobile phone, netbook or even a gaming device,” says David Staas, JiWire’s senior vice president, marketing. “Over 890 million new Internet enabled wireless devices are expected to ship this year alone according to Morgan Stanley, revolutionizing how people integrate media into their daily lives and changing the nature of advertising.”

Public Wi-Fi is becoming more pervasive with a 21.9% growth in locations in 2009. In addition, overall Wi-Fi usage continued to grow, with an 8.2% increase in Q4 alone. Many travelers took advantage of free Wi-Fi sponsored by Microsoft (Bing) and Google over the holidays. These campaigns contributed to an increase in usage at airports and cafés by 26% and 22.9% respectively in Q4.

Further contributing to the increase in Wi-Fi use is the general shift from data cards to Wi-Fi. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 9% of laptop users made the switch to Wi-Fi in the second half of 2009.

With McDonald’s starting to offer free Wi-Fi in 2010, JiWire projects a 15% increase in free Wi‑Fi locations in the U.S., which will bring free Wi-Fi to 52% of the total number of public Wi-Fi locations this year.

The on-the-go mobile audience revealed they are avid online shoppers and most likely to shop online for convenience:

  • 90% make purchases online;
  • 49% make purchases online while on the go;
  • 47% use the Internet as their primary source for making a purchase;
  • Internet stores, such as Amazon and eBay, are the most popular shopping destination with on-the-go audiences;
  • Electronics superstores, such as Best Buy and Radio Shack, also appeal to mobile consumers who adopt new technologies early to stay connected.
    In December, the most frequently visited Web site categories were news, search engines and social networking

JiWire’s third Mobile Audience Insights Report is based on data from approximately 285,000 public Wi-Fi locations, as well as a survey of 2,024 customers randomly selected across JiWire’s Wi-Fi Media Channel in Dec./09 – Jan./10.

JiWire serves advertisements to over 30,000 public Wi-Fi locations in North America and records data from every ad request. This report is based on the ad request data collected from Oct. to Dec./09. Quarterly public Wi-Fi location rankings and business model distributions are based on the final day of the quarter.

Leave a Reply