The technology landscape is changing with every passing year. More people than ever before are online (4.53 billion, or 58.8 percent of the world's population to be exact) and the ways that people are accessing the web all over the world are changing, too.
However, this isn't the only way the digital
world is changing. Thanks to new devices, the desktop computer is no longer the
primary way people access the internet. Instead, they're turning to their
mobile devices and the data seems to show that trend will only continue, as
more and more people around the globe primarily use mobile devices to get
Over the past decade, the share of traffic coming from mobile has shot up, but in 2018 and 2019, that number has held steady at 50 percent, suggesting we may have reached the new normal.
As 5G becomes more and more of a reality, we might see mobile traffic become even more important, and grow even more quickly, than it has in the past half-decade or so.
Read on to learn how the desktop versus mobile
landscape has changed since 2013, and how we expect it to keep changing in the
In 2019, mobile usage was at an all-time high, although it was only slightly higher than the year before. Here are the mobile versus desktop usage statistics you need to know.
If we want a broad, big-picture look at how mobile web access has changed over the last five years, we can look at the total percentage of global websites accessed via mobile phones from 2013 to 2018.
Statista compiled data about mobile phone web access and found that since 2013, the share of global web pages accessed via mobile phones has more than tripled. To be more specific:
- Mobile phones made up 16.2 percent of worldwide traffic in 2013.
- In 2019, 52.2 percent of traffic came from mobile phones.
It's important to note that this data represents only mobile phones, and not other mobile traffic, like tablet traffic, which also increased in the same period of time.
Now, as we dive deeper into desktop versus mobile web access, we'll look at specific types of internet use, including search engines, media consumption and e-commerce, and how much of the traffic in each of those areas comes from mobile users versus desktop users.
Statista analyzed the mobile share of organic visits to search engines over the last five years, finding a huge increase in mobile's share of all visits between 2013 and 2018. Here are some highlights:
- In Q3 of 2013 saw 27 percent of organic search engine visits coming from mobile devices.
- In Q4 of 2013, mobiles share of organic visits jumped to 33 percent.
It naturally follows that six years later, in 2019, mobile devices had a much higher share of organic traffic to search engines:
- In Q3 of 2018, the mobile share of organic search engine visits was nearly 32 percent higher than in the same quarter of 2013: 56 percent.
- In Q4, it was 58 percent, dipping slightly after reaching 60 percent in Q3.
That means that in addition to the nearly 30 percent increase in the last six years, mobile traffic to search engines is still overtaking desktop traffic, albeit at a slower rate of growth than in 2013.
Time spent per day on media in 2019 compared to 2013
Statista also compared the amount of time people have historically spent consuming media on different types of devices each day. This includes social media, video streaming, music, ebooks and other types of online media.
Unsurprisingly, between 2013 and 2019, time spent on media on a desktop has declined slightly. In the same period of time, time spent on media on a mobile device has sharply increased.
Here is a breakdown of the stats:
- Desktop users spent an average of 144 minutes per day consuming media from their desktops in 2013.
- By 2019 desktop users were down to an average of 128 minutes per day of media consumption.
- Mobile users, on the other hand, averaged just 88 minutes per day consuming media on their mobile devices back in 2013.
- By 2019 the amount of time the average person spent consuming media on a mobile device daily was up to 203 minutes per day. This means that desktop media consumption declined by around 11 percent over those five years. Meanwhile, mobile media consumption increased by more than 130 percent.
- In 2013, average daily media consumption on mobile devices was around 39 percent lower than on desktops.
- By 2019, media average daily media consumption on mobile devices had actually surpassed desktops by nearly 37 percent.
The one area that's been studied recently that doesn't show mobile handily surpassing desktop use is in online shopping.
While conversion rates for online shoppers have increased on all devices over the last five years, conversions on mobile are still lagging far behind "traditional" conversions or those that happen on a desktop. Here are some stats:
- In 2013 desktop online shoppers had an average conversion rate of 3.34 percent. By 2019, that had increased to 4.14 percent.
- In 2013, mobile online shoppers had a conversion rate of just 1.14 percent.
- In 2019, that had improved to 1.53 percent, which is actually a .03 percent decrease as compared to 2018, suggesting shoppers are perhaps getting even more tired of all the ads and other marketing communications being sent to their phones.
This seems even more plausible when we consider that desktop conversions improved from 2018-2019, suggesting that when people are on a desktop device, they are more intent on buying, whereas clicks on a mobile device might simply come from pure curiosity, browsing to kill time or perhaps even an accidental tap.
However, another possible reason for the slower mobile growth in ecommerce conversions than in other areas is the fact that 90 percent of mobile device use is spent in apps, and online shopping apps haven't seen huge growth until the last couple of years. Looking at all the data above, you can see that the fastest growth rates for mobile internet use happened from 2013 to 2015, and while mobile use is still increasing from 2016 to today, its rate of growth has slowed down a bit.
Meanwhile, mobile apps for online retailers have only started to see explosive growth from 2017 onward.
The year 2020 is still too young for much data to be available about mobile versus desktop usage this year but looking at 2019 statistics gives us a good idea of the trends, and they all show that mobile internet use is poised to continue growing and further eclipsing desktop use.
It was only in late 2016 worldwide mobile internet
use surpassed desktop use but the trend had been clear for some time by that
point - desktop internet use had been declining steadily while mobile
internet use rose over the prior decade.
Clearly, more and more people are using their mobile devices to access the internet, and we can likely expect this trend to continue.
This is partly due to mobile devices being more accessible than desktop computers in most developing countries, which is where internet use and penetration rates are growing the most quickly.
For example, China is currently home to more internet users than any other country in the world - 802 million users in total - and 98 percent of them access the internet via a mobile device. India is close behind with 500 million internet users, with around 80 percent of them online via mobile devices.
Ninety percent of the time people spend on mobile devices is spent using apps, and engagement is up to four times better in apps than mobile web browsers.
One area where mobile use is still lagging behind desktop use is in engagement. As of 2019, 55.9 percent of the time spent on websites comes from desktop users, compared to 40.1 percent for mobile users. While more people are accessing the web from mobile devices than desktops, people still tend to spend more time on sites when they access them from non-mobile devices.
People are already using mobile devices more than desktop computers to access the web, and the data shows that's unlikely to change. In the future, mobile users are likely to continue to become more prevalent than desktop users.
Could there come a day when desktop computers and laptops are obsolete because of mobile devices? Only time will tell, but the data makes it seem like a possibility.