Mobile exceeds desktop as most used internet platform

The majority of worldwide internet usage in 2016 came from mobile and tablet devices, exceeding desktop for the first time, according to new research.

Research by StatCounter found that mobile devices accounted for 51.3% of all internet usage in October 2016 year-over-year, the highest it has ever been, overtaking desktops at 48.7%.

These figures vary considerably on a country-by-country basis, however, the research firm believes it should be a 'wake-up call' to businesses yet to adapt to changing internet habits.

"This should be a wake-up call, especially for small businesses, sole traders and professionals to make sure that their websites are mobile friendly, as many older sites are not," said Aodhan Cullen, CEO of StatCounter.

"Mobile compatibility is increasingly important not just because of growing traffic but because Google favours mobile friendly websites for its mobile search results," added Cullen.

Google has recently launched greater support for mobile business, as it was revealed a greater number of web searches using their engine come from mobile devices. In July the company released a 'Test Your Site' tool to help keep track of how mobile websites are performing compared to desktop.

What is clear is that many 'mature' economies such as the US and the UK still rely mostly on desktops to access the internet. In the UK desktop internet usage is at 55.6%, with mobile at 44.4%.

However, Cullen warns that although desktop remains the primary mode of internet usage in the UK, businesses wishing to seek opportunities in other countries should be aware of the dominance of mobile.

"Post-Brexit, UK businesses should be aware, as they look to increase trade outside the EU, that India, for example, has over 75% internet usage through mobile devices," said Cullen.

The majority of the countries in Africa, the Middle East, and one of the UK's biggest trading partners, China, have all seen mobile become the dominant mode of internet use.

Although many companies consider mobile as their 'other' platform, it may be time to focus more heavily on the platform, as the trend is likely to continue across the world.

Dale Walker

Dale Walker is the Managing Editor of ITPro, and its sibling sites CloudPro and ChannelPro. Dale has a keen interest in IT regulations, data protection, and cyber security. He spent a number of years reporting for ITPro from numerous domestic and international events, including IBM, Red Hat, Google, and has been a regular reporter for Microsoft's various yearly showcases, including Ignite.