Gartner’s mobile predictions

I thought this was worth sharing – Gartner published last month their IT predictions for the next few years. Of particular note are their mobile phone /user devices predictions at the end of the report (section 10).

In a nutshell, they anticipate that in the next 3 years mobile will surpass the PC as the most common web access device worldwide.  They’re not saying that mobiles will replace PCs as the primary way to browse the web, but rather the sheer penetration of smartphones and browser-enabled enhanced mobile devices by 2013 will ultimately mean that more people will be accessing the web on their mobiles than on PC.

When I shared this report with Douglas McDonald, the Head of Mobile at TMW he suggested we should use some caution using global numbers as much of that growth is in emerging economies where mobile is the only option for connectivity. Fixed line will be far more important in the short term in US, Western Europe.  That said, it’s very clear that brands need to seriously consider developing a mobile website strategy if they haven’t done so already.

The full report can be accessed here or you can review the relevant extract below:


  • According to Gartner’s PC installed base forecast, the total number of PCs in use will reach 1.78 billion units in 2013. This figure comprises desktops, notebooks and mini-notebooks (netbooks). All of these devices are capable of being used for Internet access, even if some are not.
  • Gartner’s smartphone installed base estimates indicate the number of smartphones in use will reach 1.32 billion units in 2013. All smartphones (e.g., the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3G S, HTC G1 and Touch HD, Nokia N97, Palm Pre, Research In Motion BlackBerry Storm, Samsung Omnia and Omnia HD, and Sony Ericsson Satio and Experia X1) are equipped with Web-browsing capabilities.
  • Shipments of enhanced phones (which have media or application capabilities but no local operating system, such as the LG Arena and Samsung Jet) peaked in 2008 and will decline from 2009 onward. The installed base of enhanced phones also peaked in 2009. A growing percentage of enhanced phones are equipped with advanced Web-browsing capabilities. By 2013, over 40% of the enhanced phone installed base (1.26 billion units) will be equipped with advanced browsers — 505 million units.
  • By 2013, the combined installed base of smartphones and browser-equipped enhanced phones will exceed 1.82 billion units. From 2013 onward, this combined installed base will be greater than the installed base for PCs.
  • Although few users exploit smartphones or enhanced phones for extended Web access, most use them occasionally to access information, Web-based applications and social networks on the move. For example, in September 2009, 65 million of the 350 million registered Facebook users used the mobile device application.

Market Implications:

  • Although the bulk of page views will continue to occur through larger-format devices (PCs), from 2013, mobile phones will drive the higher number of website accesses due to the sheer weight of device numbers.
  • Most users in 2013 will use a PC as their primary Web access device and their phone as a secondary access device. However, as takeup of smartphones spreads globally, there will come a point in 2015 when the mobile phone will overtake the PC as the most common primary device for Web access worldwide.
  • In 2009, the majority of organizations do not have mobile-friendly websites. Among others without a significant mobile presence are Ikea International, Samsung Electronics, Apple, Samsung, H-P and Pitney Bowes. But many leading organizations are now re-evaluating their website design to improve accessibility from mobile devices.
  • Mobile Web users are typically prepared to make fewer “clicks” on a website than users accessing sites from a PC. Although a growing number of websites and Web-based applications offer support for small-form-factor mobile devices, many still do not. Websites not optimized for the smaller-screen formats will become a market barrier for their owners — much content and many sites will need to be reformatted/rebuilt.
  • Organizations in geographic regions where the PC is not as prevalent will face the most need to invest in mobile browser access to their websites. Organizations with consumer-facing websites and portals will be more at risk of reduced customer interaction and fewer transactions than business to business. Many information portals used by educational institutions and the government sector will also require reformatting and restructuring. Online retailers, banks and financial service providers will be the most exposed to this risk.


  • Re-evaluate your websites, customer portals and Web-based applications to ensure they provide adequate support for access from smartphone and other mobile devices.In most cases, websites and Web-based applications should be designed to be device-independent. Consider using mobile consumer application platforms for this.Where redesign for mobile phone access is required, consider both format (to fit the restricted user interface capabilities) and information structure. Unless absolutely required, commonly accessed information and resources should not be positioned more than “three clicks away” for the user.

4 thoughts on “Gartner’s mobile predictions

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