Mobile browsing just overtook the desktop for the first time

They say it’s one of the saddest moments in a person’s life when their child can beat them at a game for the first time, and the desktop computer just had its own electronic version of that distressing experience. October 2016 was the month smartphones and tablet web browsing finally took the lead: 51.3% to 48.7%.internet_usage_2009_2016_ww

Mobile browsing just overtook the desktop for the first time

Sure, there’s no biological link here, but there’s only one way this graph is going, and it’s not in the desktop’s favour – even with recent attempts to give it a kickstart.

That graph is from StatCounter, which has been tracking global browser data since October 2009. Cast your mind back to then: Gordon Brown was prime minister, Chelsea was top of the Premier League, and Cheryl Cole was top of the charts with “Fight for this Love”. Your phone was most likely either an Apple iPhone 3GS, the HTC Hero or the Palm Pre. Is it any wonder, given the somewhat clunky browsing experience those handsets offered, that in those halcyon days you preferred browsing from the desktop?internet_usage_2009_2016_uk

That’s all changed now with smartphones and tablets offering a better experience all round, and smartphone data plans no longer being insultingly limited for the money.

StatCounter’s CEO, Aodhan Cullen, believes this should be a wake-up call to professionals who still view mobile optimisation as an afterthought. “Mobile compatibility is increasingly important, not just because of growing traffic, but because Google favours mobile-friendly websites for its mobile search results,” he said.internet_usage_2009_2016_us

While the trend is pretty obvious worldwide, interestingly the graph is skewed by mobile adoption outside of the West. While the UK and USA still have the desktop on top (55.6% to 44.4% and 58% to 42% respectively), 78% of India’s internet access is via mobile. Cullen believes that post-Brexit, with a need to trade beyond the EU, these kind of concerns should be on every site owner’s mind.

You can look at the data for individual countries on StatCounter’s site, here.

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