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Study finds half of web users go online via mobile devices

Wednesday, October 19th 2011
Oxford University researchers revealed 44 per cent of internet users utilise devices such as tablets and ereaders to browse the web.
Study finds half of web users go online via mobile devices
Almost half of internet users in Britain utilise portable mobile broadband devices to access the web, according to a new study from the Oxford Internet Institute (OII).

Researchers at the organisation revealed 44 per cent of internet users get online via smartphones, tablets and ereaders, or own three or more computers.

People in this category, described in the report as 'next generation users' (NGUs), visit multiple locations and utilise several different devices to browse the web and perform tasks such as updating social media sites, finding directions and using email.

Just 32 per cent of respondents fitted into this bracket when a similar study was conducted in 2009, while only a fifth were NGUs in 2007.

Rather than being passive internet browsers, consumers in this segment produce their own online content such as blogs, personal websites and social networking profiles.

While 97 per cent of web users owned a mobile phone in 2009, only around one in four of them took advantage of the device's internet browsing and email sending capabilities.

Income was found to be a major factor in determining whether someone is an NGU, with people in this segment more likely to be in the highest wage band.

Report author Professor William Dutton from the OII said: "The rise of NGUs is reshaping how people use the internet.

"The internet has become a central part of their lives, particularly in how they inform and entertain themselves. These users are not just passive consumers either; they actively create content for others."

Co-author Grant Blank added: "NGUs are changing lives for themselves and others through the use of multiple portable devices."

In May, Ofcom revealed 17 per cent of UK households use mobile broadband to browse the internet, with seven per cent of these relying on the technology as their only means of getting online. 

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