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Smartphones replace laptops for connecting to public Wi-Fi: report

Consumers are spending more time on their smartphones, with 42 percent preferring to research retail products on smartphones and tablets rather than laptops, according to a JiWire report being released today.

The Mobile Audience Insights Report found that there was a 23 percent growth in mobile connections year-over-year, and a 25 percent decline in the percentage of laptop connections YOY. It also found that retail stores are the most common commercial venues for mobile device usage at 31 percent of all mobile usage.

“The laptop has been the primary Wi-FI device for consumers for the past decade,” said David Staas, president of JiWire, San Francisco. “The fact that smartphones have grabbed that position reflects the greater mobility of today’s consumer and the ease with which they stay connected.

“Consumers are readily connecting to Wi-Fi with more portable devices like smartphones, and that is the opportunity for merchants,” he said.

“Providing a Wi-Fi service in-store, with value added information to improve the shopping experience, will engage their customer on the device they have with them at all times, particularly when shopping.”

JiWire’s Mobile Audience Insights Report is based on data from a survey of more than 1,300 randomly selected customers from across JiWire’s combined Wi-Fi and mobile advertising platform. The data was collected from April to June.

Mobile Wi-Fi
This report marks the first time in history that consumers are accessing Wi-Fi from mobile devices more than from laptops.

According to the report, 64 percent of all public Wi-Fi usage stemmed from mobile devices with smartphones at 40 percent and tablets at 24 percent. Laptop usage decreased to 36 percent.

Another interesting first is that a Samsung phone was in the top three for top 10 Wi-Fi mobile devices in the second quarter of 2013. Apple’s iPhone and iPad were the top two, but the Galaxy S III surpassed the iPod touch.

Overall iOS devices accounted for 66.1 percent of ad requests in the second quarter of 2013 while Android devices made up 31.6 percent of ad requests.

The United States saw growth in its free public Wi-Fi offerings with 83 percent of the models being free, a nine percent increase since the second quarter of 2012. Worldwide, only 22.8 percent of public Wi-Fi is free.

Mobile retail
Another interesting finding is that the number of consumers who purchase from their mobile device rather than in-store has increased 92 percent since the first quarter of 2012.

Additionally, of the 67 percent who prefer to research retail on a tablet, 41 percent purchase on a tablet, and 35 percent of the 68 percent who research on their smartphones end up purchasing via the smartphones.

Consumers who do end up purchasing on mobile devices show interesting trends in how much they prefer to spend on different devices.

For purchases under $250, consumers prefer to purchase on smartphones, but for purchases above $250 they prefer to buy on tablets.

In terms of how they prefer to find out about retail-related information, 33 percent prefer a retailer’s branded app and 21 percent prefer a retailer’s mobile site, with a majority of 58 percent preferring the retailer’s Web site.

The report also found a 25 percent growth in in-store mobile device usage since the first quarter of 2013, with 80 percent of consumers using mobile devices in-store to enhance the experience.

Unfortunately for stores, 59 percent of consumers use mobile devices to comparison shop, which should encourage stores to make sure that their in-store experience is good enough to beat out showrooming.

“For retail, 68 percent of consumers are researching on their smartphones while 67 percent are researching on their tablet before arrival at a store, meaning they already have a strong purchase bias when they walk in,” Mr. Staas said.

“In-store programs should recognize that shoppers are using mobile in-store as the final step in their purchase decision – and merchants can leverage that to enhance the shopping experience by providing more information on their own offerings, incentives to buy, ability to share socially, etc.,” he said.

“Merchants need to address mobile with a dual strategy of both drive to retail initiatives, and drive to mobile commerce initiatives. To accomplish this well, merchants need to have a strong audience targeting solution for efficiency and maximum return on their marketing spend.”

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York