5 Predictions for the Future of Wi-Fi and Mobile

July 19, 2012 - 1 Comment

Wi-Fi has truly come of age as a viable means to connect mobile devices to the Internet. The past four blogs in this series have highlighted some of the key findings of a recent survey of U.S. mobile users by Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG). Our survey uncovered some startling revelations about what consumers are doing on their mobile devices, how and where they are using them, and how they are connecting them to the Internet.

The majority of devices are now Wi-Fi-enabled, and the fastest-growing category is “nomadic” devices such as tablets and eReaders. We now need to speak of the “mobile home,” as the home is by far the most popular location for consumers to use their mobile devices. Surprisingly, Wi-Fi is the network connection of choice for most consumers for all of their devices, but they would like to see Wi-Fi more seamlessly integrated with mobile networks. When they are not at home, mobile users are increasingly expecting public hotspots to provide Wi-Fi connectivity to these devices. While service providers are beginning to realize that they need to deploy Wi-Fi networks, our research clearly shows that there are viable monetization opportunities in mobile data off-load, customer retention, and new and innovative business models.

While it is never easy to foresee the future, here are five predictions for key changes in the mobile industry over the next two years as an outcome of the Cisco IBSG research:

1. Mobile will become one of the primary ways people access entertainment.

Within the next two years:

  • 75 percent of mobile users will access social networks
  • More than 50 percent of mobile users will watch streamed and recorded videos
  • Up to 50 percent of mobile users will read eBooks

2. Home will continue to dominate other locations for mobile device usage.

In the next two years, more than 50 percent of all mobile device usage will occur in the home.

3. Devices will also get “out of the house,” with increased usage in public spaces.

In the next two years, 15 percent of all mobile device usage will occur in retail and public locations.

4. Wi-Fi will become the predominant access technology for smartphones.

Within the next two years:

  • More than 75 percent of smartphones will regularly use Wi-Fi
  • Smartphone owners will use Wi-Fi almost 50 percent of the time to connect to the Internet

5. While smartphone penetration will continue to increase, much of the growth of mobile devices will  come from nomadic devices.

In the next two years:

  • 25 percent of consumers will have eReaders
  • 33 percent will have tablets

Cisco IBSG conducted its online survey of 1,079 U.S mobile users in March 2012. The study was also undertaken in Brazil, Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. Full results of the survey can be downloaded here.

This is the last of a five-part series that highlights the key findings from the study and our predictions for key changes in the mobile industry over the next two year.

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  1. Interesting predictions. In our family of 5 we have in excess of 20 WiFi connected devices in the home. We stream around 20% of our entertainment i.e. videos, movies, music etc. Our holiday accommodation is now selected based on whether they have wireless or not!