When they use their mobile phones to go online, Americans flock to different sites than when they surf from their computers. Meet the mobile Web.
Welcome to the weekend Web, where people are spending a bigger slice of time online via wireless devices—and using a different set of sites than during the workweek. "At Google, we see the majority of our desktop traffic [in the U.S.] during weekdays," says Matt Waddell, chief of staff for Google Mobile. "On mobile, the situation is completely reversed." Mobile browsing surged 89% in the past year, with mobile page views increasing by 127%. The increase reflects growing availability of all-you-can eat data plans and increasingly sophisticated handheld devices such as the Apple iPhone.
Lots of U.S. cell phone users flock to a different set of sites via handheld. Many swarm Craigslist, the local classified ad site. In March, users spent more time on Craigslist than on any other site. "Very few Web sites are inherently local; ours is the exception," says Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster. When it comes to sites visited from a PC, Yahoo! properties hold the No. 1 spot, while Craigslist is way down in ninth place.
Electronic commerce site eBay is No. 2 in time spent on mobile, while it's only No. 8 on the PC Web. The Weather Channel gets the fourth-highest number of unique visits on the mobile Web, but it's way down the rankings at No. 26 on the PC Web.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that "mobile will be a larger business than the PC Web." Google will get plenty of competition from other companies eager to generate sales from wider use of mobile Web access.
I browse RSS feeds via Google Reader exclusively on the iPhone; in fact, I've only accessed the service on the PC to configure feeds. Other mobile sites I access regularly on the iPhone include a local sushi restaurant menu (about twice a week) and the New York Times mobile site. But that's about it. Email triage is a bigger draw, but I definitely access different sites on the iPhone.