The Web Becomes Mobile on Weekends


Businessweek carries an interesting review of some recent tracking data on Web and mobile usage which reveals an increasing divergence in the way Americans use the Web depending on what day of the week it is. In short, the data from mobile tracking firm M:Metrics shows that during the week, we tend to use our PCs for the Web, which makes sense as we are often at work or home or school, in some fixed location with a deeper task at hand. Come the weekend, however, mobile Web usage spikes as we increasingly use mobile data connections to find a movie, search for a yard sale, look at an apartment, or all of the personal/social things we do on weekends.

The breakdown appears to be between mandatory and discretionary actions: what we have to do, versus what we want to do. The change has likely been fueled by the larger numbers of Web-friendlier smartphones we carry over from our day jobs into our private lives. We are able to bring more powerful tools with us as we go about our domestic chores and personal errands, pointing the way to a new set of functions both for the devices we carry, and the sites we visit.

Mobilizing the discretionary Web, on sites such as the popular Craigslist, which sees a big spike on weekends from mobile traffic, or sites of major retailers, such as grocery stores, big box retailers (imagine a mobile-optimized Ikea site, complete with in-store turn-by-turn location-based functionality and QR codes! It could turn a shopping nightmare into an in-store expedition.), or movie theatre or restaurant chains would speed the growth in the so-called "weekend Web".

Smartphone makers continue to adapt toward consumer markets, adding better cameras, GPS, and better screens but haven't yet begun to add more applications that recognize this difference in behavior between work and play. For the moment, the focus is on body color, sleeker lines and maybe media playback. The next step is adding content and applications that actually fit with the way we live our lives, not just in the office, but when we relax and enjoy time with family and friends.