Mobile vs Desktop Online Users by the Numbers

The number of people that own and use tablets in the United States has risen dramatically over the past year, and it is becoming easier than ever to surf the web on tablets and mobile devices. With more people using mobile devices and tablets, mobile browsers are now better than ever at displaying sites in their “natural” state as opposed to a mobile version of the site developed separately. The usability gap between mobile and desktop devices is narrowing – more of the information that previously was difficult to access or use on mobile devices is increasingly more accessible.

At this time last year, 18% of people in the United States were using tablets; this year that number has jumped to 25%. Smartphone ownership has also grown. Last year, 44% of people in the United States were using smartphones. This year, that number climbed to 50%. Owners of mobile devices are using their smartphones and tablets to view more of the web, especially with regards to local services.

The size and interface differences between mobile devices and desktops has meant that in the past, developers and designers built mobile specific sites to run on mobile devices. Smartphone screens will always be tiny compared to desktops and so mobile specific site that help get information to a user easily will always be useful. But mobile devices, especially tablets, are getting better at displaying the desktop version of a site. This means that mobile devices can play less of a role in dictating design elements of your site or the decision to build separate versions of your site to run on different devices.

By Andrew Wise

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