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Consumers increasingly opt for WiFi for mobile browsing: Study

Consumers are increasingly using their WiFi-enabled mobile devices for on-the-go browsing, with 56 percent reporting that they connect to the Internet via their handset, according to JiWire.

The JiWire report shows that there was an increase in people who access the Internet via their handsets. A majority of mobile users do their shopping and Internet browsing outside their homes.

?People are utilizing a tremendous range of devices from laptops to netbooks to e-books when choosing to remain connected while on the go,? said David Staas, senior vice president of marketing at JiWire.

?Mobile is clearly on the rise, with 56 percent saying they have used a mobile device in public Wi-Fi locations like airports, hotels, and cafes, and 14 percent saying this is now their primary device for connecting in these locations,? he said.

JiWire is a mobile audience media company. The company released its fourth-quarter 2009 Mobile Audience Insights report that looks at consumer device use.

Apple devices such as the iPhone are the most popular WiFi-enabled devices, but the market share for the iPhone declined by two percent in the fourth quarter.
Google's Android is the second most popular and the fastest-growing mobile operating system. Its market share increased by 167 percent from the previous quarter.

Mobile shopping
Additionally, the study found that on-the-go mobile audiences like to shop. Forty-nine percent make purchases online while on-the-go, while 47 percent use the mobile Internet as their primary source for making a purchase.

?The on-the-go consumer is changing the rules of engagement with marketers,? Mr. Staas said. ?Mobile users can?t be defined by a single device type anymore, but rather by audience type.

"For instance, we see that mobile device users that log on to public Wi Fi networks have strong buying power ? 90 percent shop online and 49 percent do so when on-the-go," he said. ?Recognition of these on-the-go audiences is critical to mobile marketers. 

"The more marketers know about them ? by using indicators such as online behavior and location ? the more they will be able to effectively engage them. Marketers will rethink their approach and strategy on how to reach these dynamic new consumers.?

In December, the most frequently visited Web site categories were news, search engines and social networking. Facebook and Yahoo were in the top three.

Amazon and eBay are the most popular shopping destinations with on-the-go audiences. Electronic stores such as Best Buy and Radio Shack also appeal to mobile consumers.

?Develop cross-channel strategies to reach a new audience that is increasingly mobile and away from where most digital content is consumed,? Mr. Staas said.

?By understanding how people choose to remain connected, why they?re connecting and in what type of location marketers can be successful by thinking beyond devices as a marketing channel, and instead build campaigns that converge these opportunities to more holistically engage a mobile audience,? he said.

Here are some charts from Jiwire's study: