Data shows US mobile data usage ready to pass the UK

by on August 26, 2008 at 6:43 am

Before long, the United States may become the world’s top user of the web on mobile devices, according to analytics and billing firm Bango. The company is releasing figures this morning showing the US at almost 19 percent of the world total, just short of the top country, the United Kingdom, which has about 19.4 percent.

In terms of absolute growth in each country, the US is growing much more quickly than the UK, so it should be surpassing its old colonial master in yet one more area soon. Bango estimates that might happen within several weeks, as the trend picks up pace in the States.

Mobile data is difficult to gather, and the numbers often aren’t dead-on. The indicators seem clear, though: Customers in the US are finally getting good options for using the web, from handsets like the iPhone, to better unlimited data plans, to the roll-out of better third generation networks.

Bango’s numbers also corroborate data released earlier this year, including Google’s report that mobile web usage of its sites is increasing.

The question left unanswered is where the usage ceiling lies for the US. While the UK has long been considered a fairly mature market, having had options for browsing available for years, the US has been behind in the race. Now that the technology is catching up, its larger population should make it easy for it to draw ahead, but it’s difficult to tell from this point how far mobile usage will penetrate into non-premium markets.

It seems reasonable to assume, however, that devices will continue to innovate (or copycat, as with the Instinct, Samsung’s version of the iPhone), and prices for both devices and data will edge down as carriers compete. Applications and services also tie in; for more on how they’re helping expand mobile web usage, check out our article on five trends driving the mobile web.

In case it’s of interest, here are the runners-up that Bango listed: India had almost 11 percent of total usage, South Africa was approaching 9 percent, and Indonesia had 4 percent.

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