What the Mobile Internet Meant to 2012

A look back on the impact smartphones and tablets have had on the year.

By on December 19, 2012

On Sept. 14, Facebook hit a milestone few other Internet properties have reached: the social media site passed one billion users. The company noted that 600 million are mobile users, proof that 2012 was a turning point in the movement to use mobile technology to access the Internet.

The accelerated adoption of smartphones and tablets contributed to the growth of mobile Internet usage. Mobile devices now account for 10 percent of global Internet traffic, doubling that of 2010. Nielsen reports that more than half of mobile subscribers own smartphones and nearly two-thirds of new phones purchased in between April and June 2012 were smartphones. More than half of all cell phones sold by Verizon Wireless were smartphones in the third quarter of 2012. Countries like India and China also saw smartphone adoption and mobile Internet usage skyrocket.

Smartphone and tablet growth can be linked to the growth of 4G LTE networks, which offer the data capacity, speeds and low latency that give users a Web browsing experience comparable to that of a computer. The growth in 4G LTE coverage also means Internet access in more places. Rural areas with limited broadband choices can now access the Web through services like HomeFusion Broadband and mobile hotspots.

Much of the mobile Internet’s growth can also be attributed to mobile video. According to Flurry, a mobile apps analytics company, video consumption through mobile apps increased by 52 percent from March 2011 to March 2012. ComScore also reported that one in every 10 tablet users views video content almost daily on his or her device with apps like viewdini, which searches for high quality video on Netflix, Hulu Plus and Verizon FiOS, among other providers.

The rapid spread of mobile technology and 4G LTE is changing how people connect. As the holidays approach and people reflect on the past year, one thing is certain – 2012 was the year of mobile Internet.  

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