This morning we distributed something we like to call the “Wi-Fi Snapshot” [DOWNLOAD]. It’s a collection of statistics that we think are interesting, based on what kinds of Wi-Fi enabled devices our web server sees in the 60 airports where we run the network. It also includes some metrics based on connection/session data we’ve logged over the hundreds of thousands of hotspots that comprise our network.
The most significant data point is that for the first time in our history, mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) make up a majority of the Wi-Fi device audience. In June, 58.9% of all Wi-Fi enabled devices that loaded our walled garden page (where we ask if you want to log in or buy access) were not laptops. And 83% of those devices were running iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch). This is in stark contrast to 2007, when laptops represented 99.9% of all devices we saw, and most of the other 0.1% were Win CE devices (Pocket PC, Windows Mobile).
Another key indicator is the explosive growth of iPads in the marketplace. Remember that when Apple announced the iPad, many pundits claimed the tablet was a product that no one wanted. It wasn’t small enough to be conveniently portable, and it wasn’t capable enough to be really useful. Well, I guess they were wrong, since it now represents almost a quarter of all non-laptop devices in airports. While the overall market is growing, the iPad appears to be making traction largely at the expense of the iPod Touch.
The other trend we’d like to point out is that average mobile device data consumption is up 31% year over year on a per minute basis. That means that people are spending more time watching video or streaming music during their sessions, instead of doing lower-bandwidth activities like email or web browsing. At a time when mobile operators are eliminating unlimited data plans in favor of tiered pricing, users are increasing their data consumption. These two trends will likely intersect in the near future, to the consumer’s detriment (higher bills) and the operator’s benefit (more revenue). Fortunately, it appears that Wi-Fi is poised to save the day for consumers, providing a cost-effective solution to enjoying this rich multimedia online experience, while avoiding data overages on their cellphone data plans.
Let us know what you think in the comments below, or ask questions about related trends you might be wondering out.