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Mobile Phone Internet Use Continues to Catch On recently ran an interesting article about a study conducted by Mobext – the mobile marketing branch of Havas Digital – that shows that the U.S. has quickly caught up to or otherwise surpassed major European countries when it comes to the percentage of mobile Internet and 3G/smartphone users.

How do we rank?

The study shows that of those interviewed, 18.2% use the Internet on their phone and 28% are admitted 3G/smartphone users. While these are impressive numbers for the U.S. and the mobile phone market in general, it should be noted that we are still far behind Asia, who has an amazing 80% 3G/smartphone penetration in their mobile Internet user market.

Why the increase?

Interesting note – in the last two years there has been a sudden 74% increase in mobile Internet users. Research shows that this is due largely to competitively priced flat rate mobile data subscriptions (you use the Internet however much you want, whenever you want, and pay one flat fee each month.) Specifically contributing to the increase in 3G/smartphone users has been the relative affordability of smartphones like Apple’s iPhone 3G which, with improvements in technology, has continued to lower in retail price. At the time of the study, Mobext cited Apple’s affordable iPhone asking price of $199 as being a reason why there’s been a sudden increase in 3G/smartphone popularity within the mass market. But as points out, it does not take in to account Apple having since lowered the price of the iPhone 3G this past June to just $99. What kind of increase can we expect to come as a result from this dip in price?

How does this affect marketing strategy?

In terms of marketing and advertising, studies like this are important to follow as Internet use on a mobile phone is notably different from Internet use on a computer. For one, the size of the screen is much smaller, and so we must remain aware from a designer’s perspective that there is a limited window to getting a message out there. Also, in terms of technology, Web-based creative requires different coding for mobile phone Internet use.

For further insight in to the differences between standard Internet design/marketing and mobile phone Internet design/marketing, read Robert Harrison’s Unplugged blog, “One Web Site, Many Designs. Part 2: The Platforms and Devices.”