A Quarter of U.S. Handheld Users Are Wireless

While many people probably understand that, in the future, most handhelds will be wirelessly accessing the Internet, they might surprised how many people are doing so already. According to a study by comScore Media Metrix, of the 19.1 million handheld users in the United States, 5.0 million access the Internet with their device, or 26%. This is a much higher percentage than access the Internet through their mobile phone. According to the study, 8.6% of the 67.2 million Internet users that own a mobile phone access the Internet with it.

"Although wireless Internet usage is still in its relative infancy, these data prove there already is a significant wireless Web audience,” said Peter Daboll, division president of comScore Media Metrix.  “While there are more Internet users with cell phones, a much higher proportion of PDA owners report using those devices to go online.  These usage rates warrant careful monitoring, both by manufacturers as they develop new devices and by publishers and marketers as they evaluate wireless strategies.”

Mobile Internet users are are doing the same things they would while they are online through their desktop PCs, which isn't surprising. What may be surprising is how many of them there are. Mobile device users make up:

  • 11% of all Web-based e-mail users
  • 11% of instant-message users
  • 12% of all visitors to news sites
With the high cost of wireless Internet access, the majority of its users are well off. Those with annual household income of more than $60,000 represent 59% of the total number. Men make up 72% of mobile Internet users.

These numbers include all types of handhelds, not just Palm OS users. However, according to an IDC report, 93.2% of smartphones shipped in the U.S. in 2001 ran the Palm OS. This is the most recent time period for which data is available.

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Excellent news

Ou_Boet @ 8/29/2002 1:43:53 PM #
One thing this article assumes is that internet connectivity and wirelss access are one and the same. They are not, I'd say that a good portion of those connecting to the net do so over a land line.

However, that aside, it's great to see that mobile devices are so popular in terms of internet access. E-mail access must be the driving force behind PalmOS connectivity.

OB

Any device can have one more useful feature added.

HandEra Moderator at [url="http://www.PalmVenue.com/forum"]PalmVenue[/url]

Huh?
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2002 1:47:00 PM #
First, how do we know this is wireless? I access the internet with my PDA using ethernet and a 56K CF modem all of the time if it is cheaper than using my cell phone or thre is no WiFi available. 25% are "connected" but that doesn't mean wireless.

Second, of the 19.1M handheld (PDA) users (thankfully the old Palm Pilots and other 4-5 year old devices have finally been dropped off so Palm is going to have to dump their 26M user market share mantra) how many are PalmOS vs other? Your 93.2% smartphone PalmOS number is irrelevant to this calc. THe MediaMetrix report broke that out from the 67M Cell users and 5.8M using their phone to access the internet. Again, the 93.2% number is irrelevant here as many of these are WAP users on just about any cell phone from SprintPCS, Verizon, Voicestream, etc.

Interesting that the IM stats show that MS Messenger is the largest at 14%. Sounds like the "connected" side isn't so PalmOS biased.

RE: Excellent news
dvrg @ 8/29/2002 1:52:49 PM #
I think you have misread the article and the study results. This wasn't a study of Internet access over handhelds, it was a study of WIRELESS Internet acess with phones and PDAs.
RE: Excellent news
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2002 1:56:56 PM #
> Palm is going to have to dump their 26M user market share mantra

19.1 million in the U.S. I can easily believe there are many millions more in the entire rest of the world.

RE: Excellent news
Ed @ 8/29/2002 2:01:55 PM #
> Your 93.2% smartphone PalmOS number is irrelevant to this calc

You misunderstood my point. I wasn't saying that 93% of all wireless handhelds and mobile phones run the Palm OS. The study makes a clear separation of mobile phones with Internet access and handhelds with wireless access. The 93% figure is for that latter category.

This issue is confused by what is it that makes a mobile phone or a handheld a "smartphone". Not everyone agrees on the definition.

I sincerely hope that, in their study, comScore Media Metrix made it clear they were speaking of wireless access. If not, then their results are totally invalid. If they allowed wired Internet access, then anyone who uses AvantGo qualified.

---
News Editor

RE: Excellent news
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2002 2:07:42 PM #
"While 11 percent of instant-message users access the Internet via a cell phone or PDA, that figure is 14 percent for MSN "

I think the higher percentage for MSN is because they have really pushed to be the main portal for Verizon and other wireless web phones. So I think it has little to due with winCE vs PalmOS. They should have broke down that 14% by phone vs pda to make any reliable conclusion.

RE: Excellent news
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2002 3:22:39 PM #
I think this report is misleading.

They probably include those BlackBerry in the
handhelds. And since all those Berries access internet
through wireless, the percentage is kind of high.

On just Palm and PPC, these numbers can't be
true, even include those SmartPhone and Treos etc.

ted


RE: Excellent news
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2002 4:22:22 PM #
Absolutely---don't forget about the wired internet users---
RE: Excellent news
ginsberg @ 8/29/2002 5:22:38 PM #
Their estimate of 19.1 million PDA users in the U.S. is inflated. That is probably close to the total number of PDAs ever sold in the U.S. and does not take into account all of the PDAs retired from use. Many users have bought (or own) more than one PDA. Current number of PDA users in the U.S. is probably closer to 12 million, with about 15 million PDAs in use today.

They did NOT say that 5 million of those PDA users access the Internet via wireless, although many in the media interpreted this press release to mean that.

RE: Excellent news
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2002 6:11:17 PM #
"They probably include those BlackBerry in the
handhelds. And since all those Berries access internet
through wireless, the percentage is kind of high."

I'd disagree with you and say the numbers would rightly contain those. Except that the number of blackberrry users is not tremendous anyway so as not to have a huge effect. For example previous releases have shown a larger number of Palm VII/i705 users alone than blackberry users. And the number of Blackberries that qualify as a PDA (rightly so) is an even smaller fraction of those numbers.

Much of the RIM line DOES consist of wireless PDA's, and *should* be a constituent of these numbers.

Not quite correct
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/30/2002 2:11:34 PM #
Ed,

I think the way you've framed this story, and particularly your headline, does not correctly capture what the actual report said. It did not say that 26% of U.S. handheld users are wireless. What is says is (direct quote from the site):

"This analysis – which includes U.S. persons age 18+ who used the Internet from a PC in the first quarter of 2002 – determined that among the 19.1 million users owning a PDA, 5.0 million access the Internet with those devices."

So 1/4 access the Internet with their handhelds. I think that clearly can include AvantGo, Vindigo, syncing mail, iSilo, plucker, etc. The report does NOT say that all these people are using their handhelds to WIRELESSLY access the internet, only that they are USING them to access the internet.

That's a pretty big distinction, especially given most PIC readers' assumptions about what wireless Internet access means.

RE: Not quite correct
Ed @ 8/30/2002 2:21:25 PM #
Everyone, please get in the habit of reading all the comments under a story before you post your own. The previous comment makes a good point... one which several people have already made. The fact that it wasn't posted in the thread with the other comments making this same point really seems to indicate he hadn't read the thread. I have moved this comment to be with that thread so all discussion about this one point will be together.

Sorry, I'm not particularly picking on this one person; this happens fairly often here. I'm hoping that by pointing it out we can reduce the number of redundant comments.

---
News Editor

RE: Excellent news
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/30/2002 2:49:21 PM #
> "Although wireless Internet usage is still in its relative infancy, these data
> prove there already is a significant wireless Web audience,” said Peter
> Daboll, division president of comScore Media Metrix.

So if this study isn't about wireless access, why does the man in charge keep talking about wireless access? If half the people he's talking about aren't wireless, then what he says here makes no sense. Is the study messed up or just comScore Media Metrix's report on it?

RE: Not quite correct
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/3/2002 10:33:57 AM #
Ed,

Actually, I had read this thread. The point of this thread was to debate what "wireless Internet access means." It seemed to me that this debate was engendered by your headline which says that a quarter of U.S. handheld users are wireless.

My point was different. My point was that this is not actually what the article which you were reporting on said. The article said that 26% of of PDA users use their PDAs to access the Internet. It did NOT say that the access was through wireless. Thus, my point was that all this debate as to whether the report was really accurate - were 25% of PDA users really using wireless? - was erroneous, because the comments were debating something that the report did not say, but which only your headline said.

My point, frankly, was that you report, and especially your headline, was a misleading summary of the orignial report.

Gay Sites Most Likely to Attract Wireless

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2002 2:05:32 PM #
"Gay Sites Most Likely to Attract Wireless Internet Users – Among comScore Media Metrix’ 29 categories and 71 subcategories of online media, gay/lesbian sites have the highest concentration of Internet users that access the Internet with a cell phone or PDA (30 percent)."

Wow, that was a huge surpise. No bashing here, just would have never thought that.

RE: Gay Sites Most Likely to Attract Wireless
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2002 3:31:42 PM #
that is really random.
but maybe its because a palm wouldnt have temporary internet files?
sounds paranoid, but being in the closet can do that.
also, studies have long proven that gay men have a great deal of disposable income, or at least they did in the mid-late 90's...
and since wireless is expensive, it would make sense that a wealthier group would have higher numbers with it.
NOTE: the study im referencing compared gay men to lesbians, gay men to straight men without families, and lesbians to straight women without families.
While straight men make slightly more than gay men, gay male couples without children have more disposable income because two men have a higher combined salary.

11% for news sites ?

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2002 2:31:44 PM #
Pretty high ! Can PalmInfocenter confirm this number with their stats ?

At http://www.palmopensource.com I get only 0.0000001% of wireless users !

Cheers,

Ludo.

RE: 11% for news sites ?
Admin @ 8/29/2002 5:50:17 PM #
We do have a large amount of wireless traffic. However most if it is from avantgo so it's hard for us to accurately measure the number of people that connect to our handheld site without wires. To give you a rough idea we typically see over 3 million hits a month on our wireless page, but that # is a bit inflated because 1 avantgo session picks up 12 pages.

-Ryan
webmaster@palminfocenter.com

Small correction Ed

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2002 2:47:37 PM #
You say:
"According to the study, 8.6% of the 67.2 million adult U.S. mobile phone users can access the Internet."

The study actually says:
"Among the 67.2 million *ONLINE* users that own a cell phone, 5.8 million access the Internet with those devices."

[*emphasis mine]

That's an important distiction, because you make it sound as though there are only 67.2 million US mobile phone users.

In fact Reuters, in an unreleated article on wireless number portability this week quotes In-Stat/MDR putting the figure at 125.5 million in 2001, with an estimated 143.1 million in 2002.

http://www.reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=technologynews&StoryID=1378980

-Craig Bowers

RE: Small correction Ed
Ed @ 8/29/2002 3:07:11 PM #
You are quite correct and I have changed the article.

---
News Editor

Well bugger me with a barge poll!

mtg101 @ 8/29/2002 4:55:55 PM #
WOW! Seriously, I didn't think the EU or APR had wireless PDA usage at this rate, let alone our backward cousins in the US! I'd be interested to see the figues for the EU and APR regions to see how they compare. I get that "eating hat" feeling here :)

More seriously, as with always stats, I'd like to see the questions asked and the make-up of the group questioned. For example, you ask 100 PIC regulars if they're using their PDA wirelessly, you'd get a really high figure. In fact you could probably get 10% saying "yes, I've used my PDA and phone to record things on my TiVo while I was out of the house" :)

Stats can prove anything... even the truth!

---
russ@russb.fsnet.co.uk

RE: Well bugger me with a barge poll!
mtg101 @ 8/29/2002 5:09:34 PM #
OK... so I can't spell "pole"...

U try spellin stuff when u is drunk and when you write when it aint underlined in red if it dont spell wright!


---
russ@russb.fsnet.co.uk

RE: Well bugger me with a barge poll!
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2002 6:17:13 PM #
Actually I though it a humorous pun...

Yeah right higher PERCENTAGE

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2002 5:48:04 PM #
Does PERCENTAGE of different type / different amount / different quantity mean anything !? ....

it might look good on paper, but in real life that doesn't mean anything.

without reading the article...

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2002 11:26:22 PM #
just looking at the heading without reading the article got me thinking.... isn't all handhelds wireless? i mean, wouldn't it be a pain to have to keep it plugged to the wall all the time? my palm vx is technically wireless, i only connect it to something when i hotsync. but other than that, it's mostly wireless. when i access the internet at home, the palm is still wireless, lying right next to my keyboard.

ok jokes over. move on now.

Can't Believe The Numbers

SuccessWizard @ 8/30/2002 1:22:37 AM #
I can't believe that there are 5 million PDA users out there accessing the net wirelessly. Maybe they are syncing Avantgo onto units and considering that wireless net access, but I really question the number.

There aren't 5 million wireless units in the hands of consumers to make that happen.

The other figure that makes me question the validity of the numbers is the gay/lesbian finding. It seems like the study is skewed by a pocket of users -- like a little mold in a box of Oranges spoils the whole box. Given that I've never stumbled across a gay/lesbian PQA (haven't looked though) in all the years I've used wireless Palms.

Mike Lohsl
Palm & ACT! Advisor

www.successwizard.com

[I]Proud user of a Palm i705 Mobile Office and Kyocera 6035 phone[/I]

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