June 23, 2011, 4:49 PM

Nearly 7% of U.S. web traffic comes from mobile and other non-computer devices

Tablet computers already represent 1.8% of U.S. web traffic, comScore says.

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The way consumers access the Internet is changing rapidly, as documented by a report from a new research service comScore Inc. announced today.

The new Device Essentials service reports web traffic by device, and it shows that 6.7% of U.S. Internet traffic comes from mobile phones (4.6%), tablet computers (1.8%) and other devices such as web-enabled game consoles (0.3%).

“That 6% is a big enough percentage that you can’t ignore it,” says Andrew Lipsman, comScore vice president of marketing. “And iPads are selling like crazy and everyone is getting a smartphone. So that 6% will soon be 8%, 10%, 15%. As that change occurs anybody who does anything on the Internet will have to pay attention.”

ComScore collects the data on non-computer web access devices from operators of major web sites, mostly in areas like news, information, sports, real estate and health. While that can give online retailers an idea of how mobile consumers are accessing the web, Lipsman says, how consumers access e-commerce sites via mobile may be somewhat different from how they access media content. He says comScore is working on providing more information on how mobile consumers access web sites, including retail sites. ComScore has for years estimated web traffic from computers by monitoring some 2 million consumers who have given the firm permission to track their web activity.

The data from the Device Essentials service will not be completely news to e-retailers, as any retailer can see from his own analytics data how many visitors come from various kinds of mobile devices, says Craig Smith, founder and CEO of e-commerce consulting firm Trinity Insight. But this comScore data can provide a retailer with a broader view of how consumers in general are using mobile devices to access the web, which can impact investment decisions, Smith says.

“If I’m Ann Taylor and I know my core demographic is women 35 to 60, and I see 35% of that segment is on the iPad for three hours a day, that helps me in the business case justification to build an application for that device,” Smith says. Women’s apparel retailer Ann Inc., formerly known as Ann Taylor Stores, is No. 95 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

The comScore data released today show that Apple Inc.’s iPad dominates the burgeoning tablet computer arena, while Apple’s iPhone faces stiff competition from smartphones using Google Inc.’s Android operating system.

The iPad accounts for 21.8% of U.S. web traffic not coming from computers, while Android tablets represent 0.6% of that traffic and all other tablets just 0.1%, comScore says. But Android smartphones represent 35.6% of non-computer traffic, the Apple iPhone 23.5% and all other smartphones 6.7%. Feature phones, the less sophisticated mobile predecessors to smartphones, represent 2.4% of non-computer traffic, the Apple iPod touch 7.8% and other devices, such as web-enabled gaming consoles, 1.5%.

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