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Mobile Phone Traffic Statistics and Trends

by Michael Smith, 7 July 2024

A Comprehensive Look into Mobile Internet Traffic

We now live in a world where it’s rare to find a person who doesn’t own a mobile phone or at least knows what it is. You can basically run your whole life using this handheld device.  Of course, you use your phone to connect and socialise with other people. But also to improve your lifestyle, watch movies, play games, listen to music, pay bills, shop online, edit photos, and create content. Convenience, the popularity of smartphones, and the time spent on them all contribute to mobile phones dominating the world.

The fast-growing mobile internet traffic helps businesses and marketers advertise their brands better and reach more people. With the increasing mobile traffic, optimising a website for mobile screens is doing the bare minimum. The stakes are higher, so marketing campaigns and content creation must be tailored for mobile users. Read on as we dig deeper into mobile internet growth and all the factors that brands and marketers must consider for their subsequent marketing campaigns.

The Rise of Mobile

Mobile internet growth has been increasing drastically over the last decade. Here’s the global web traffic as of May 2024:

Desktop traffic once dominated. However, in 2017, mobile traffic reached 51.56% compared to desktop’s 43.75%.

Global Web Traffic From 2015 to 2024

Here’s a closer look at the global web traffic percentage from 2015 to 2024.

YEAR MOBILE DESKTOP TABLET
2015 35.10% 59.17% 5.73%
2016 43.59% 51.37% 5.04%
2017 51.56% 43.75% 4.69%
2018 50.88% 45.11% 4.02%
2019 50.39% 46.04% 3.75%
2020 51.61% 45.64% 2.75%
2021 55.01% 42.31% 2.69%
2022 58.32% 39.43% 2.25%
2023 55.19% 42.88% 1.94%
(As of May) 2024 60.08% 37.85% 2.07%

Sources: https://www.oberlo.com/statistics/mobile-internet-traffic / https://gs.statcounter.com/platform-market-share/desktop-mobile-tablet/worldwide/

Many factors drive the exponential growth of mobile web traffic, including:

The gap between mobile and desktop web traffic isn’t that large. It was always within 10% to 15% before 2024. That means businesses and marketers shouldn’t just abandon desktop users. After all, many people still use their computers to shop online, research, and engage in other online activities. However, they must optimise their content for mobile screens by focusing on responsive design, fast loading times, a touch-friendly interface, and increasing the visibility of mobile-specific content.

Mobile Traffic by Region

Mobile vs Desktop Internet Traffic by Region

Here, we’ll explore how mobile web traffic flows in key regions across the globe as of May 2024.

REGION MOBILE WEB TRAFFIC DESKTOP WEB TRAFFIC TABLET WEB TRAFFIC
Africa 77.79% 21.13% 1.08%
Asia 68.74% 29.5% 1.76%
Europe 52.52% 45.15% 2.33%
North America 48.79% 48.5% 2.71%
South America 51.44% 47.87% 0.69%
Oceania 53.45% 42.73% 3.82%

Source: https://gs.statcounter.com/platform-market-share/desktop-mobile-tablet/

On average:

Over 77 Percent Africa Internet Usage is Mobile Usage

There are significant differences in mobile web traffic across regions. Africa has the highest mobile traffic share at over 77%, compared to North America’s 49%. Africa is often called a “mobile-only” continent due to less developed landline internet infrastructure, making mobile data plans more practical. Furthermore, more people in the region have “feature” mobile phones (non-smartphones) that generally have a long battery life. These phones are valuable in places with erratic electricity as they can last up to a week. Mobile phones also have a radio, an essential form of mass communication in Africa.

Mobile Phone Operating System Preference in Africa

Affordability plays a huge factor as well. Over 80% of Africans use Android phones because they offer a wide price range, local apps, customisation, versatility, and accessibility. In some regions, Android is preferred due to brand loyalty and local marketing. Brands like Tecno and Infinix are popular because of strategic pricing and marketing.

On the other hand, North America is the world’s least mobile-centric region, with roughly 49%.

Mobile Traffic in the United States

Web Traffic in USA in 2024

Here are the web traffic stats in the US as of May 2024:

Mobile Web Traffic in USA from 2019 to 2024

Here’s a rundown of web traffic in the US in the last five years:

YEAR MOBILE WEB TRAFFIC DESKTOP WEB TRAFFIC TABLET WEB TRAFFIC
2019 44.47% 48.45% 7.08%
2020 47.82% 47.84% 4.34%
2021 47.57% 48.88% 3.56%
2022 50.52% 46.43% 3.05%
2023 35.73% 62.21% 2.07%
(As of May) 2024 48.23% 49.12% 2.65%

Source: https://www.oberlo.com/statistics/mobile-internet-traffic

The distribution of mobile vs. desktop internet usage in the United States presents a fascinating contrast to the global trend. While statistics show a global shift towards mobile browsing, US consumers appear to buck this trend, favouring desktops. Before 2023, mobile and desktop usage was see-sawed, with a narrow gap separating their market shares.

However, a significant shift occurred in 2023, with desktops surging ahead. In particular, in October 2023, mobile web traffic in the US was only 29.15%, while desktop web traffic peaked at 69.28%. The reason for this vast difference is still unspecified, but cyber threats that month could be a factor.

US consumers’ affinity for desktop and laptop use over mobile stems from different factors, including:

Mobile Traffic in Select Countries

Let’s move beyond the US and see the top 20 countries with the highest mobile web traffic percentage as of January 2024:

COUNTRY MOBILE WEB TRAFFIC %
1 Nigeria 86.67%
2 Vietnam 86.51%
3 South Africa 80.9%
4 Saudi Arabia 80.59%
5 India 79%
6 Ghana 78.19%
7 Kenya 75.46%
8 Turkey 74.65%
9 United Arab Emirates 73.53%
10 Egypt 70.8%
11 Morocco 65.81%
12 Spain 65.8%
13 Poland 64.95%
14 China 64.09%
15 Singapore 62.18%
16 Ireland 62.61%
17 Indonesia 62.53%
18 Thailand 60.39%
19 South Korea 59.65%
20 Argentina 58.62%

Source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/430830/share-of-mobile-internet-traffic-countries/

Africa Tops Charts vs 9 Asian Countries Top 20

Surprisingly, there are nine Asian countries in the top 20 compared to six in Africa.

ASIA Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, India, China, Indonesia, Thailand, UAE, Singapore, South Korea
AFRICA Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, Morocco

However, the African region still tops the charts with an average of 76.3% of mobile web traffic, against Asia’s 69.8%

On the other side of the spectrum, the bottom five countries with the lowest mobile web traffic percentage are:

COUNTRY MOBILE WEB TRAFFIC %
1 Japan 37.6%
2 Canada 42.13%
3 Portugal 42.16%
4 Belgium 42.37%
5 New Zealand 43.71%

Interestingly, Japan enjoys some of the highest levels of connectivity globally but ranks last. The ranking isn’t about speed or innovation but about Japanese nuances in the digital world. The average Japanese only spends about 4.5 hours a day online, while the global average is 7 hours. They use social media in under an hour, 65% less than the worldwide average. They also rarely use new tools in search engines, like voice search. The Japanese culture is very considerate and courteous to others; for instance, talking on the phone on public transport is frowned upon.

Mobile vs. Other Devices in the US

Mobile vs Other Devices in USA

In the US, 97% of the population owns a mobile phone. From this percentage:

Mobile Phone Ownership by Age Group

Let’s take a closer look by age group:

Cellphone Ownership by Age Group:

AGE CELLPHONE OWNERSHIP
18-29 99%
30-49 99%
50-64 98%
65+ 94%

Smartphone Ownership by Age Group:

AGE CELLPHONE OWNERSHIP
18-29 97%
30-49 97%
50-64 89%
65+ 76%

Cellphone Ownership (but not smartphone) by Age Group:

AGE CELLPHONE OWNERSHIP
18-29 1%
30-49 2%
50-64 8%
65+ 17%

Smartphone dominance is exceptionally high in all age groups, indicating that most Americans use it as the primary internet search and communication device.

Interconnected Devices in USA Households

On average, American households have nearly six internet-connected devices.

Mobile Device Activities

Mobile phones are used in various ways besides making and receiving phone calls. Here’s a breakdown by category.

Top Mobile Device Activities

Entertainment:

ACTIVITY PERCENTAGE
Played a game 68%
Listened to music 67%
Used social media 63%
Watched videos, TV, or movies 61%
Read a magazine or newspaper 33%
Controlled a smart device 20%

eCommerce/Finance:

ACTIVITY PERCENTAGE
Paid for online purchases 47%
Accessed bank services 47%
Ordered products 42%
Sent money to a friend 35%
Paid using Google Pay, Apple Pay, etc. 33%

Health & Wellbeing:

Business:

Travel:

Miscellaneous:

Common Sense Media reported that 97% of teens use their phones during school hours. On average, they check their phones over 50 times daily, with some checking them hundreds of times (peaking at 498 times). This daily phone use adds up to over four hours of screen time.

Popular Phone Activities During a School Day

Students were most likely to do the following when they used their phones during the school day:

TYPE OF PHONE USAGE PERCENTAGE
Check social media 32%
Watch something on YouTube 26%
Play a game 17%

TikTok is these teens’ most visited social media app, with users averaging nearly two hours daily.

Mobile Internet Traffic by Browser

Learning which browser is commonly used by mobile users can help brands and marketers optimise their websites for a smooth user experience.

Top Mobile Browsers as of May 2024

Here’s a breakdown of the top mobile browsers as of May 2024 using a year’s worth of data.

BROWSER PERCENTAGE
Chrome 62.61%
Safari 27.65%
Samsung Internet 5.54%
Opera 1.72%
YaBrowser 0.6%
Others 1.89%

Since Chrome has the lion’s share, brands and marketers must prioritise web and app functionality for the browser. Chrome’s dominance isn’t a surprise, considering its close integration with key Google services like Gmail, YouTube, and Search. Chrome consistently has a fast loading speed and a simple yet intuitive interface.

Top Mobile Phone Operating Systems 2024

It’s also unsurprising that Android is the top operating system for mobile phones. Let’s examine the stark differences between Android and other operating systems.

MOBILE OPERATING SYSTEM PERCENTAGE
Android 71.5%
iOS 27.73%
Samsung 0.38%
Unknown 0.2%
KaiOS 0.15%
Windows 0.02%

There are several reasons why mobile users prefer Android over other operating systems, particularly iOS. In terms of hardware choice, different phone manufacturers use this OS to offer various functionalities at different costs. This enables mobile users to choose a phone that best suits their needs and budget. Android phones also provide a higher degree of customisation so users can personalise their devices to their heart’s content.

Now let’s look at the most used mobile web browsers in different countries, grouped by browser:

Safari:

COUNTRY PERCENTAGE
United States 55.05%
Australia 52.81%
Saudi Arabia 52.17%
United Kingdom 49.5%
Japan 49.29%
Canada 46.23%

Chrome:

COUNTRY PERCENTAGE
India 90.56%
South Africa 87.22%
Indonesia 87.07%
Argentina 83.33%
Philippines 82.22%
Mexico 76.99%
Brazil 72.81%
France 57.99%
Germany 51.63%
New Zealand 51.4%

Opera:

COUNTRY PERCENTAGE
Norway 59.58%

Mobile App Market

Mobile App Downloads from 2018 to 2023

Sales from mobile apps will surpass $613 billion by 2025. Year on year, a billion-worth increase can be seen in the number of mobile app downloads:

YEAR NUMBER OF DOWNLOADS
2018 192.45 billion downloads
2019 204 billion downloads
2020 218 billion downloads
2021 230 billion downloads
2022 255 billion downloads
2023 257 billion downloads

It’s worth noting that in 2023, global app downloads stalled at just a 1% increase from 2022.

The majority of mobile users obtain their mobile apps from only two places:

Google Play Store Android 3.55 million apps available
Apple App Store iOS 1.64 million apps available

Source: https://www.bankmycell.com/blog/number-of-mobile-apps-worldwide

The great thing about both stores is that they offer the top and latest apps, sometimes simultaneously, sometimes with a few days in between. The Apple App Store is good and is more organised for checking recommendations and featured picks. In contrast, the Google Play Store has a more straightforward app search that allows remote installation directly from the web browser onto your computer.

Impact of 5G on Mobile Traffic

New Applications Enabled by 5G

While 4G provides fast mobile internet, the fifth generation of wireless technology offers speeds 100 times quicker. 5G means amplified mobile connectivity, allowing for downloads, uploads, and streaming of HD videos at a considerably higher rate with much enhanced reliability. 5G is also the best fit for IoT applications. This would include smart homes, smart cities, and industrial IoT—cases when many devices must integrate and process data in real time.

5G’s ultra-fast speeds will significantly impact mobile traffic:

Evolving Network Management: Mobile network operators must develop new strategies to handle increased traffic and diverse applications. This includes traffic prioritisation, network slicing for different data types, and more innovative data caching techniques to maintain a smooth user experience.

The rise of mCommerce

The mCommerce industry has proliferated due to the increased number of smartphone users. Here, convenience reigns, as consumers can buy products and services anywhere on their mobile devices.

Here are the current trends in mCommerce affecting mobile traffic:

Final Thoughts

Growth in mobile internet traffic is a sure sign of diversification and innovation. Mobile phones are no longer just communication devices. They’re tools to consume content and help make your everyday life easier. Understanding the intricacies of mobile consumption and traffic can help you create a more impactful marketing strategy. Look into the above-mentioned data and see how these insights can help you shape your next campaign.

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