UK wireless data numbers disappoint

Page imps count, but for how much?

You might have thought it would never happen, but here it is, the first official count of the number of Internet pages served on mobile phones and wireless devices. The data has been gathered and analysed by the Mobile Data Association, on behalf of O2, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone. It makes for disappointing reading.

The total number of page impressions, which is a fully loaded Internet page, served to GSM network users throughout September of this year totalled a meagre 340 million. To put this into some kind of perspective, that's probably about the same as the total number of pages served by MSN and Yahoo in the UK each month.

The MDA sees this as something of a success, saying the figures are, 'staggering' etc, which, given that this is mobile Internet that we're talking about, it arguably is. The wireless Internet has had an abysmal launch in the UK so any sign of activity has to be taken as a boon.

Currently the UK is estimated to have at least 25 million Internet enabled handsets in activity. That figure could get bigger depending on confirmed figures from O2 and Vodafone. But how many of those are actually being used to access the Internet is unclear. Chances are it isn't many of them. Internet enabled or not, wireless surfing in the UK at present is pretty painful. Neither the sites or the handsets are ready, if we're honest about it.

Still, somebody must like it. According to the MDA those that surf through their mobile phones are doing it, predominantly, for wireless messaging and chat services. That's encouraging given that this is an area that has barely been explored in the wireless world. Just wait until instant messaging is introduced and see it grow.

Other hot areas for the wireless WAP surfers are fun and games content, sport and of course the ever present news and information services. Overall, it doesn't sound very different to the current use of the Internet through more applicable devices. Worryingly though, the study doesn't say anything about the retailers enjoying success, which won't please them.

Overall, it's a start isn't it. The wireless web hasn't been around for long and, given it's staggering, stuttering lurch into life, the signs are probably encouraging. There's a long way to go though and the MDA intends to keep track of it monthly from now on. Keep your eyes peeled.

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