Popular mobile browser provider Opera released a demographic report about their users today that provides some valuable, if sometimes unsurprising, insights into just who is accessing the web on their mobile phones. The two primary take-aways: 88.1% of people using the mobile Web around the world are male and most people using Opera Mini are between the ages of 18-27

Those big conclusions may be relatively unsurprising but the study also includes a number of other tidbits that might be news to you, as they were to us. It's a really interesting snapshot of different cultural contexts and technology use patterns.

Interesting statistics from the survey include:

  • The United States has the world's highest percentage of Opera Mini users over the age of 48 (7%) and 20% of US web users are women.

  • Mobile web users in India are 97% male and that country has the lowest percentage of under-18 mobile web users (5.6%)

  • South Africa has the world's highest percentage of women mobile web users (25%) and Facebook is the top site accessed in Opera Mini in that country.

The study is full of interesting statistical observations like the above and is displayed in a very readable format.

While the mobile web and Opera Mini in particularly are very widely used around the world, they are also only a part of the emerging global mobile experience. We like to read about mobile social change activities, often based on SMS, over at MobileActive - a great place to learn about different ways people around the world are using their phones. danah boyd's recent blog post about the way that Palestinian girls receive cell phones as a gift from boyfriends to facilitate serendipitous communication and then struggle with expectations that they will not use it to communicate with other people is also a very interesting read.

Some people argue that a binary definition of gender is falsely limiting and inappropriate for an accurate observation of any cultural experience, but the vast majority of people in much of the world do self-identify as one gender tied specifically to their sex. In that context, it's unclear on what it means that men are 10X as likely to use the mobile web as women - but who would have been surprised if the study had concluded that men spent 10X as much time on the mobile web (including at the dinner table)?

Opera's study will no doubt be discussed in settings ranging from marketing to advocacy of social equity in technology. It's a good one to have in the back of your mind when thinking about the mobile web.