US Trails China In Almost Every Mobile Usage Trend

Mobile device usage has spread across the globe. In terms of mobile penetration, the United States is actually on the lower end of the worldwide spectrum, with only 77% cellular device ownership. That seems counterintuitive to the way the U.S. views itself as the heart of mobile acceptance and innovation. It is China and other Asia-Pacific countries that really lead in mobile adoption.

Research firm Forrester released a study last week showing global mobile usage trends. In almost every mobile usage aspect, metropolitan China and other Pacific Rim countries lead the way. That includes mobile social usage, work usage and multiple device ownership. Mobile is near an inflection point, changing the way people interact with information around the globe.

Forrester’s research shows that the mobile Internet is starting to become the prime point of entry to the Internet for many people around the world. This is perhaps what a “post-PC” world looks like. Forrester sees a lot of potential for growth in terms of mobile commerce because of this, as 25% of people in China and the U.S. have researched retail products with mobile devices but only 9% to 15% have actually completed a purchase. Juniper expects mobile commerce to be a $670 billion global market by 2015, so there is a lot of room for improvement in these numbers.

In metropolitan China, 46% of people access the mobile Internet, 57% listen to music, 36% play games on their mobile devices and about 33% access social networks. In contrast, near 25% of U.S. mobile consumers use their devices for social networking. Only 11% of European users have accessed social networks through their devices.

In terms of native applications, the United States is by far the biggest consumer of the application ecosystem. Near 90% of smartphone users in the U.S. have downloaded and app within the last three months. The United Kingdom ranked second in the survey with 66% with the next seven countries on the list all coming from the European Union. That would make comparative sense between the U.S./E.U. and the APAC countries. The use rates of the mobile Web (topped by 57% in Japan) are much higher than in the Western countries, which tend to use a lot more applications.

Overall, Forrester says that China has the higher incidence of what they call “super connecteds” – users that “access the Internet at least once a week from their phones and make use of advanced services and applications.” See the graph below for more on Forrester’s groups of users.

Forrester’s report is based off a survey of 330,000 individuals across 18 countries focused on Europe, the United States and Asia Pacific. The report is the result of three surveys: The European, Asia Pacific and North American Technographics Benchmark Surveys.

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