Page last updated at 15:35 GMT, Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Mobile internet usage on the rise

News website on a mobile phone
BBC News is more popular than Google on mobile platforms

Mobile internet use is growing while the number of people going online via a PC is slowing, analyst firm Nielsen Online has found.

Some 7.3m people accessed the net via their mobile phones, during the second and third quarters of 2008.

This is an increase of 25% compared to a growth of just 3% for the PC-based net audience - now more than 35m.

It also found that the mobile net audience was younger and searched for different things.

Searching news

While Google remains the most popular site for those logging on via the desktop, on mobile internet BBC News is the most visited site, with nearly a quarter of mobile internet consumers using it.

Other popular sites include BBC Weather and Sky Sports.

"This highlights the advantage of mobile when it comes to immediacy: people often need fast, instant access to weather or sports news and mobile can obviously satisfy this," said Kent Ferguson, a senior analyst with Nielsen Online.

"The fact that weather, sports, news and e-mail sites make up the majority of leading mobile sites shows that mobile internet is mainly about functionality and need at the moment as opposed to the more entertainment and e-commerce-focused makeup of the leading PC-based sites," he added.

Perhaps unsurprisingly the mobile net audience is younger than its computer based counterpart.

A quarter of the mobile net audience is aged 15-24, compared to 16% for the PC.

While 23% of the desk-top based internet population is 55 or over, only 12% of mobile internet audience is.

Facebook phone

3's Facebook phone
3 has launched a so-called 'Facebook phone'

There are several factors for the dramatic rise in mobile net use, thinks Mr Ferguson.

"The barriers are finally being lifted thanks to operators offering flat-rate tariffs for data and more user-friendly handsets and improved network technology," he said.

It is thought that mobile users spend about 10 minutes online per session with an average of around seven sessions per month.

Increasingly mobile firms are encouraging users to venture online via their handsets.

Increasingly buttons for Google and popular social networks are being incorporated on handsets.

Mobile phone firm 3 has recently launched a so-called Facebook phone, which integrates the networking site with the traditional functions of a mobile.

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