Just about everyone in the marketing and technology fields has accepted that mobile and more specifically, the mobile internet, are really, really important. That's true today, and it's only going to be more so in the future.

But many believe that mobile is more than just really, really important; they believe it will be far and away the most important channel as more and more consumers become armed with smartphones.

According to a study conducted by market research firm Ipsos OTX on behalf of Google, that belief has some supporting evidence.

The study, conducted at the end of 2010, polled more than 5,000 smartphone owners about their mobile internet habits. The results:

  • 81% of smartphone owners browse the internet.
  • 77% use search and 90% of searches conducted result in some action being taken.
  • 95% of smartphone owners have sought local information online.
  • 79% use their smartphones to assist with the shopping process, and 70% use the phone while in the store.
  • 71% of smartphone owners "search on their phones because of an ad exposure".

If the numbers are to be believed, the smartphone is, for obvious reasons, akin to the holy grail for marketers and retailers. After all, what other channel or device is driving these kinds of numbers?

There's good reason for the smartphone's potency in everything from search marketing to retail: sophisticated mobile phones are utilitarian devices capable of delivering instant gratification when consumers want and need it most. That translates into intent.

When somebody searches for "new computers" on Google, it's reasonable to assume that he or she is potentially interested in buying a new computer at some point in the not too distant future. This intent explains why advertisers shell out billions of dollars a year on Google AdWords ads. But mobile users often deliver even greater intent.

When a consumer searches for "HP desktop prices" from his or her smartphone, there's a good chance that she's either in a store looking to make sure that there isn't a better deal online before she completes an offline purchase or that she's gone to the store to make a decision on a model and is ready to buy online.

Obviously, not all smartphone-based mobile internet excursions or searches are created equal, but the nature of the device means that, for many markets, activity is going to be backed up by intent that's stronger than can typically be expected in other channels.

Even if one questions whether, say, 90% of mobile searches really result in a meaningful action being taken, logic dictates that a relatively high figure is to be expected.

For companies, the imperative is clear: if you're not looking at the ways you can deliver content and information effectively over mobile, you'll increasingly lose out.

Patricio Robles

Published 27 April, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (5)


Alan P

Whoa there - that data has more flaws than a dodgy diamond, most importantly frequency - ie it is true that 90% of people will search on their smartphone and buy something, what is not mentioned is how often. I suspect the laptop has about a 90% hit rate too.

More debunking here:


about 7 years ago


Daniel Kaneshiro

More like the holy bible. We all turn to them for direction and messaging in our lives.

about 7 years ago

Terry Chisholm

Terry Chisholm, Manager of Digital Services at Pulse Group

Could not agree more! This article is spot on!

about 7 years ago



Mobile video depth qual? see qualvu.com

about 7 years ago


Hugh F

As Churchill (I think) once said: "Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics".

Judging by the twitter feed on the right where people are blindly RT'ing the article, most people don't have time to actually think about what these figures mean.

I think the stat which is most interesting (and to be fair, often picked out in the RT's) is "70% use the phone while in the store". I think this is the one the marketers are focusing on.

about 7 years ago

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