56% of iPhone Surfing Done on Wifi

AdMob’s new metrics came out last night and there’s a very interesting section on how people are using wifi to access the mobile web. This is a trend we’ve been seeing for a while, but I really didn’t expect it to take off in quite such big numbers.

We’ve looked at usage in both the US and the UK and patterns are pretty similar. And remember, that since iPhone is only sold with a fixed price data plan, the only reason why you’d want to hook up to a wifi network is for speed.

Just a brief word on methodology here. What we’re talking about is the percentage of pages our servers receive requesting an ad to run on that mobile web page. This is a pretty good proxy for how people access the mobile web, but clearly not an exact one, so treat it with interest, but caution.

In the US, 8% of all such pages are served over wifi, which is a pretty impressive figure and has increased by 5% since August – so we’re seeing fast growth of the trend. But for iPhone, this figure rises to an amazing 42%.

In the UK, the stat is also 8% for total usage and a staggering 56% from the iPhone.

In both markets, the iPod Touch is the second biggest device for consumption of mobile web pages, beating the Nokia N95 into third place in the UK and the Sony PlayStation Portable in the US. Yes, that means that 25 million page views were viewed last month on a PSP.

This is a fascinating trend and for me certainly, has come out of the blue. I obviously expected wifi to be an important trend, but never saw it happening this quickly.

For mobile operators it could be seen as surprisingly good news in a way. Firstly, it takes pressure off their networks, as people consume more and more data at a fixed price. Frankly, the idea of a variable cost being charged out on a fixed basis is a little scary for most businesses. It also proves that there’s a hunger for ever-faster access to data.

But glass-half-empty scenario is that if people can make do with waiting until they get to a more and more ubiquitous wifi network for web access, maybe the phone will revert to being a voice and messaging platform and paid-web-access for everyone will just fizzle out as a concept.

What do you think?

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