Half Of Internet Users Do So Without A PC
May 1, 2012

Half Of Internet Users Do So Without A PC

Peter Suciu for RedOrbit.com

While the Internet was originally conceived as a way to maintain communication in the event of a catastrophic incident, it grew into a global “computer” network, with computer being the key point. Interestingly, more and more users around the world are connecting to the Internet without a computer, and are doing so using handheld technology instead.

According to a recently published white paper by web browser developer Opera Software nearly half of new Internet users have never used a PC to go online. The third screen - mobile phones and tablets - is accounting for roughly half of new web users in the developing world. That was the findings of a survey conducted for Opera Software by research company On Device Research.

“In the emerging world the smartphone is more than just a way to make calls and text,” Billy Pidgeon, principal analyst at M2 Research told RedOrbit. “The mobile phone has leapfrogged the computer and even videogame consoles.”

To this end, agreed Pidgeon, those who may never own a computer can get online and send an email, while they can play a game without ever owning the PlayStation, and can watch video without owning a TV. Additionally, the falling costs of mobile phones makes this all the more affordable for people in the developing world. The Opera Software white paper further noted that in emerging markets roughly half of all users do so from a mobile device.

Broken down by browser, 56 percent of global Opera browser users now access a web via their mobile phone only. This compares 43 percent of non-Opera users. Opera on mobile remains one of the most dominant browsers.

While the mobile phone is allowing people around the world to get online, another study suggests that there is still a significant minority of those with no desire to do so at all. A recent Pew study showed that 22 percent of people in the United States do not use the Internet in any way, and this number has remained steady since 2009. By contrast 19 percent of Americans own some sort of tablet, however there seems to be little overlap in the two figures, although tablets could help bridge the gap.

Of those not online, or using the Internet in any way, poverty and low income levels remain a factor - but only account for 10 percent of those not online. The larger share includes those who are just uninterested, and this figure included seniors who had not grown up with the Internet, as well as families who simply don't use it. Age was the larger factor, but as baby boomers become seniors the percentage of those not using the Internet will decrease.

The mobile phone is further helping close the gap however.

“Groups that have traditionally been on the other side of the digital divide in basic Internet access are using wireless connections to go online,” noted the study. “Among smartphone owners, young adults, minorities, those with no college experience, and those with lower household income levels are more likely than other groups to say that their phone is their main source of internet access.”