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U.S. knocks Britain to claim top spot for mobile Web browsing, spending: Bango

August 21, 2009

usbritainThe United States has knocked Britain off the top slot for mobile Web browsing with 29 percent of the worldwide traffic, according to mobile analytics and billing company Bango.

The good news for content providers is that growth in traffic is matched by growth in users paying for content on the mobile Web. When it comes to payments, the U.S. is accelerating faster than any other country and now accounts for 57 percent of mobile payments worldwide.

“Bango’s view of the mobile Web and spending is rosy, because even though the world is going through a recession, we’re seeing an increase in businesses that are charging for content via a mobile Web experience, as opposed to SMS,” said Sarah Keefe, Cambridge, England-based vice president of marketing for Bango.

“We’re seeing the growth and migration towards the mobile Web way of selling content,” she said.

With 245 million subscribers, it was only a matter of time before the U.S. became the No. 1 country in the world for mobile Web browsing.

Bango cites three main factors driving growth of the mobile Web.

The first is the iPhone effect.

“Because of the iPhone’s wonderful user interface, more people are motivated to browse,” Ms. Keefe said. “The iPhone is selling well, and while the majority of U.S. consumers are using other devices, Apple’s marketing has encouraged [even people with other Web-enabled handsets] to find content on the mobile Web as well.”

The second is the introduction of flat-rate data plans.

“All-you-can-eat data plans make it so much more affordable for people to browse the Internet on their phone,” Ms. Keefe said.

The third is the fact that mobile phones have become much more sophisticated, with advanced 3G networks and bigger displays.

“All of those technology factors have made a big difference in the popularity of browsing the mobile Web,” Ms. Keefe said.

Bango claims to have made carrier billing more efficient by enabling people to single-click to buy and download content straight to their mobile handsets.

This optimized user experience has increased conversion rates so that mobile advertising and search marketing is now a profitable way of generating leads for Bango’s customers.

The publicity behind the Apple iPhone has encouraged more people to browse the mobile Web in countries such as the U.S. and Britain.

But this increase in mobile browsing has taken businesses by surprise, as many don’t have mobile Web sites.

Many companies have no idea that they have visitors from mobile devices accessing their PC Web site.

To combat the lack of awareness, Bango created a short video at that explains how to track mobile traffic.

The February Bango statistics identified mobile Web browsers from a total of 208 different countries and using 1,811 different handsets.

View a sample of the mobile traffic going through the Bango system at

The statistics also show that while some countries such as India and Indonesia have a good appetite for browsing on their mobile phones, it doesn’t always convert into purchases.

In fact, only five countries in the top 10 browsing chart are also in the top 10 payments chart— the U.S., Britain, Portugal, South Africa and Spain.

No matter how high the browsing rate, it is only converted into a high-purchase rate where people have a good disposable income and can pay for content on their phone bills.

In regions such as India, South Africa, Indonesia and Egypt, the driver for mobile browsing is a lack of fixed-line broadband and PCs for accessing the Internet, which means that the mobile device is the only way people can get onto the Internet.

Such behavior proves the growing popularity of the mobile Web.

“Mobile Web payments have seen a huge increase, which is quite important, because so much of the industry has been driven by SMS, which has its limitations, like the various lawsuits, disadvantages particularly in the way services are communicated to the customers,” Ms. Keefe said. “The mobile Web can overcome inaccuracies, and it is integral into one flow.

“You see a mobile ad or search for some content on a mobile phone and you arrive at a mobile Web site where service or content is for sale, which very clearly shows you the price, the renewal period and all terms and conditions associated with that service,” she said.

“You click pay to proceed, and on the mobile Web you get far fewer support issues and refunds, because it’s so much clearer to people what they’re actually purchasing and it offers a streamlined user experience.”

Bango is working with several mobile content aggregators, including Dada (see story), Thumbplay (see story), Flycell, Buongiorno and Gameloft (see story).

Bango has partnered with Sprint, AT&T and Virgin Mobile, and is currently working on integration with T-Mobile.

“Carriers are very much supporting this move bringing the off-deck mobile Web experience to the U.S. market, because of reduced headaches they’ve had supporting end-users that have had a bad experience with SMS,” Ms. Keefe said.

“For consumers it’s just one click,” she said. “They don’t have to enter any details. We go straight to operators for billing, the process takes between two and six seconds, we pass the end-user back to content provider site, who is then presented with the download.

“People paying for and downloading content via mobile Web is a whole new way of doing business, and the carriers are part of that equation, because it drives data traffic and they are a part of the billing step.”

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Dan Butcher is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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