Data Monday: How Long To a Mobile Majority?

by Luke Wroblewski July 8, 2012

Things change for an Internet company when the majority of their usage and traffic shifts from desktop to mobile devices. New processes, priorities, and product thinking are required to adapt. But don't wait too long to change as the shift from desktop to mobile can happen faster then you think...

  • It took Japan's most popular social network, mixi, 4.5 years to shift from 14% mobile traffic to 85% mobile traffic. (source)
  • At the start of 2009, 13% of Facebook's users were using the service on mobile (20M mobile, 150M total). Just over 2.5 years later, over 50% are using Facebook on mobile devices. (source)
  • Google launched its social network in 2011, one year later, more people are using Google+ on mobile than on desktop devices. (source)

Why Social Networks?

Astute observers will point out that all the examples above are all from social networks. Social networks are perfectly aligned with mobile devices: both are designed to keep up and communicate with others. So it's not a surprise that these products are used a lot on mobile devices.

But what about other types of companies? Can they expect things to shift just as fast? Sadly, I don't have a lot of data as most companies are not publishing their stats publicly (while most social networks are). However, looking at a few examples points out that other types of products might not be too far behind:

  • 70% of Pandora's traffic came from mobile devices in March of 2012. In June of 2011 it was 40%. In October 2011, 52%. (source)
  • The Weather Channel registered 1.1 billion online page views in October 2011 and 1.3 billion page views on mobile devices. (source)
  • Approximately 40% of all searches on Yelp came from mobile devices in March 2012. (source)
  • 15% of all YouTube consumption is via mobile devices. "If you’re looking forward in time and thinking at what point mobile devices might overtake other devices, we can be pretty certain that’s going to to be 2013 and if things keep going at the same rate it could be next year." (source)