50+ Mobile vs. Desktop Usage Statistics for 2023

Published on: April 17, 2023
Last Updated: April 17, 2023

Ever since the invention of the iPhone in 2007, mobile phones have seen a boost in internet traffic. But how many people prefer to use mobile phones over desktops in 2021? 

Here’s a comprehensive list of 50+ mobile vs. Desktop usage statistics for 2021. And the numbers may surprise.

For instance, did you know that over 61% of website visits are made through mobile phones? And that the e-commerce industry is flourishing through the help of mobile-based visits and purchases?

All of this and more will be discussed in great detail in this article. But first, a quick highlight of the statistics that are to come.

Quick Mobile vs. Desktop Usage Statistics

  • In 2020, 61% of all website visits constituted mobile visits, and only 36% constituted desktop visits. This number becomes increasingly surprising, considering people spend more time on desktop computers. 
  • An average adult spends about 4 hours each day browsing the internet on their smartphones. That number is a bit lower for millennials, at 3 hours and 45 minutes. 
  • Facebook was the most used social media site for mobile users. Over 98.3% of all Facebook traffic was generated through mobile devices. And other websites like Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn are following suit. 
  • E-commerce has also seen a recent boom, especially during the pandemic. Over 39% of buyers admit to looking at the product on their phones and buying it on their computers. 
  • Over 70% of content watched on YouTube is watched through mobile devices. This means a little less than three-quarters of all YouTuber users use the app on their phones. 
  • 58% or more of all internet searches are done through mobiles. It seems like people have a lot of free time on their hands and don’t want to open their desktops for a simple task. 
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Mobile Vs. Desktop General Stats

In recent years, the number of mobile users has skyrocketed, whereas desktop users have become scarce.

In one year, the number of mobile users soared as high as 47.59% from 37.38%. That is a remarkable development for any platform. 

And statistics show that the average mobile usage time has risen to 24.5% in the last 5 years. That’s right. What was just 188 minutes in 2016 has now seen a full 55-minute increase in 2021.

Contrary to that, desktop usage dropped down to 48.88% from 54.86% the year before. It’s still higher than the current number of mobile users. But the numbers are only expected to increase. 

In 2021, a statistic showed that more than 50% of people in the world use mobile phones. In comparison, only about 49% use desktop computers. 

Additionally, in 2020, over 61% of visits to websites were made through mobile devices while only 36% were made through desktops. These were only for people living in the US.

Globally, the percentage was much higher, with desktop visits sitting low at 29% and mobile visits going as high as 68%. 

And most of that is thanks to Millennials. It’s estimated that the average millennial spends about 3 hours and 45 minutes each day casually scrolling on their phones. 

But adults aren’t behind on that either. US adults spend about 4 hours every day on their mobile devices. This rapid rise in mobile usage is most likely due to the pandemic.

Overall, the total time spent on mobile devices in 2020 was 0.13 billion hours in the US alone. However, that number was a bit higher for desktops, as much as 0.16 billion hours.

This is most likely because larger screens present on desktops provide much better options for entertainment.

The e-commerce side of the internet has also seen a massive rise in mobile phone shoppers. It’s estimated that over 69% of people who use the internet prefer buying through their phones.

Mobile Vs. Desktop Internet Usage Stats

Mobile Vs. Desktop

Almost everyone in the world has the internet nowadays. So, it’s no surprise that, in the first quarter of 2021, 54.8% of all internet traffic came from smartphones.

And yes, that doesn’t include tablets. This percentage has been near the 50% mark for 4 years now (2017) and is expected to follow the same trend. 

And with that, the time people spend on their phones surfing through the internet has gone significantly up. To be more specific, it has risen 25% for 5 years ago. 

And it’s not just the average time. People spend more time on a website if they are on their phones. The bounce rate (the rate at which people click on a site and then click away) dropped down to 0.2% for mobile users.

This was all in the last quarter of 2020. It’s a sure sign that website developers are making their sites friendlier to mobile users. 

This is evident in the fact that more and more people are exchanging data on websites through mobile apps. Cisco predicts that, between 2016 and 2021, mobile traffic will increase by 46%.

This prediction is seemingly true since, in 2018, the total mobile traffic was as high as 14.6 Exabytes. 

But what do people do with all that time on their phones? A large portion of internet traffic is directed to e-commerce sales alone. Studies show that mobile users who buy on e-commerce sites have increased 39% since 2016

However, the dominating platform here is social media. About 80% of all social media traffic comes from mobile users.

This is mainly because social media apps are more convenient when used on phones. To further strengthen that claim, over 86% of the time that people spend on Twitter’s app is done through the mobile app.

Mobile Vs. Desktop Search Stats

Mobile devices are perhaps the most used when it comes to performing net-wide searches. Google has already declared that most of its searches are on mobile devices.

However, Hitwise has also done its independent research and confirmed the same. It states that over 58% of all internet searches are done through mobile phones. 

So, what does this mean for advertisers? It leaves a door wide open for advertising and SEO opportunities.

And many companies are already piggy-backing off of this golden opportunity. It is predicted that in 2022 US mobile search ad revenue will reach $21.55 billion.

And companies are surely keeping up. In 2020, over $37.43 billion were spent in the US in mobile search advertising alone.

But it’s not easy to implement SEO on mobile devices. Keywords and common search terms are different on desktops than on mobile phones. This means that any SEO expert needs to be very picky about their keywords.

To be more specific, around 79% of all keywords have different rankings in mobile searches than in desktop searches. And of the keywords that have the 1-20 positions, 47% of them were different in mobile searches than desktop searches. 

And it doesn’t end there. In 35% of all cases, the top-ranking page on any SERP was different on mobile devices than on desktops. This means that sites will have to deliver differently on different platforms.

And that may also be why search results are often different on mobile phones than on desktops. Over 62% of all searches (made organically) on mobile phones are different from their desktop counterparts. 

Unfortunately, many sites didn’t cut because of this discrepancy. In 2020, only 17% of all websites maintained their ranking on Search Engine Result Pages. 

Mobile Vs. Desktop Industry Stats

Mobile Vs. Desktop

With the ongoing pandemic, it’s no wonder that some industries see more mobile traffic than others. Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of the mobile vs. Desktop usage stats across different industries. 

Websites receive more desktop visits in the US than they do worldwide. And this is true for all industries.

But if you take a deeper dive into the statistics in the US, you’ll notice that some industries do better than others. 

Domains like business, industry and education saw more desktop users than mobile users. To be more specific, more than 60% of visits made to such sites consisted of desktop users. Business and industry alone had around 70% desktop visits

Computers, electronics, and science saw a similar trend, where the desktop visits were up to 60%. And it is evident that, during the pandemic, people started getting into hobbies as well. Literature, eBooks, and online communities had a bit less than 60% desktop visits. 

Online games, the finance industry, and references had a bit of a balance between desktop and mobile visits.

However, from there, mobile visits took the lead. The industry with the highest number of mobile visits was the news

Globally, however, it’s a completely different story. Although computers and electronics lead the rest in desktop visits, with over 60% visits from desktop users.

But that’s about it. Every other industry had more mobile visits than desktop visits. The industry with the highest number of mobile visits was the sports industry. 

Despite this, people spend more time on desktops, as each industry had more desktop visit time than mobile visit time.

The only industry in which the mobile visit time led was the books and literature industry. Surprisingly, tablets lead the two in many cases. 

Mobile Vs. Desktop Email and Video Stats

Email and Video Stats

With the advent of YouTube, it’s not surprising that mobile visits to YouTube have increased. And with popular streaming services such as Netflix now available on mobile devices, mobile video viewing has risen. 

Trends show that mobile video viewers are increasing in number. And by the last quarter of 2021, they are expected to rise to be about 2.33 billion users. In comparison to that, in 2016, that number was down to 1.43 billion people

And who’s to blame for that? YouTube is the main culprit. Statistic reports show that over 70% of all YouTube content that is viewed is viewed on mobile devices. And with the rapid growth of popular YouTubers during the pandemic, that number has significantly grown. 

For YouTubers, it may help to switch to more mobile-friendly content. When the top 50 YouTube channels were analyzed, it was found that they increased their audience by 218%.

And this was only when they started rolling out smartphone-friendly content in short clips and messages. 

And the big advertising companies are catching up. A recent survey conducted by Google showed that more than 83% of mobile users are actively watching video ads.

Compared to that, only 53% of desktop users actively watch ads. This makes them an important target for advertising agencies. 

Mobile Vs. Desktop Gaming Stats

Gaming saw a major boom in recent years due to the pandemic and the rapid hype for online games.

In addition, with the introduction of new games, mobile gaming has seen a significant rise both for professionals and newbies. 

In 2020, online gaming and desktop gaming were mostly balanced. In fact, desktop usage was a bit higher. This was tied with the finance and reference departments. 

In terms of time spent, however, games have the lowest time spent. It’s nearly a draw between tablets and desktops on that one.

This was only in the US. Globally, mobile seems to be doing a lot better but still pales in comparison to desktop users. 

Despite being so popular, games have the highest bounce rate of any other industry. This is mostly because many people download games out of boredom. But many choose to leave the game immediately if they find it uninteresting.

Global mobile phone game pages visited were also higher than desktop visits, though they both came pretty close.

From this, it is evident that more and more people are making the switch to mobile games. Desktop gaming still dominates the playing field, especially with the advent of new and improved CPUs.

Mobile Vs. Desktop Social Media Usage Stats

It’s a known fact that most of the time people spend on their phones is directed towards social media.

But exactly how much do people use social media on their mobile phones vs. Desktops? The statistics may surprise you. 

A recent survey found that over 80% of all social media traffic is generated through mobile phones. This means that fewer people are using social media on their desktops.

It may partly have to do with many social media platforms are more friendly towards mobile users. 

And which corporations take the lead here? Facebook is the most obvious case. Over 98.3% of its traffic come from smartphones in 2021. However, it may have reached its limit since that number has only grown 2% since 2017. 

However, other sites are gaining popularity as well. Twitter is one such example, with over 86% of its site traffic being generated through mobile phones.

This makes sense since Twitter has practically become a news website, and people only open it for a few minutes. 

During the pandemic, people’s interest in hobbies and leisure activities increased. This means that sites like Pinterest also saw a boost in internet traffic.

However, Pinterest was already pretty popular among mobile users. Over 80% of all Pinterest traffic is from mobile devices. And that information was calculated back in 2016. It has significantly grown since then. 

And since the onslaught of the pandemic, recruiters are now looking for online applicants through LinkedIn. So it’s no surprise that LinkedIn traffic has increased to 57% thanks to mobile visitors.

A significant portion of LinkedIn traffic still comes from desktops. But since most people don’t use it for too long, most of its traffic is from mobile devices. 

Other apps like Instagram and WhatsApp are also seeing more mobile device usage in recent years. However, these apps were designed for use on phones. Hence, the rise in popularity isn’t all that surprising.

Mobile Vs. Desktop E-Commerce Stats

E-Commerce Stats

Perhaps no industry has benefited more from mobile traffic than e-commerce. People can browse through their phones, search for items they like, and buy them on the spot. This is what makes e-commerce stand out from the other online industries. 

Roughly 46% of adults admit to preferring to search for items on their phones before confirming purchases—many move over to desktop computers to finalize the purchase.

But due to the rapid development of website UI, many complete the purchases on their mobile phones. 

This presents a great marketing opportunity for sellers and advertisers. The average smartphone conversion rate of users looking to buy a product has increased up to 64%. That’s way more than what it is for desktop users. 

However, that isn’t for all industries. People prefer to use a desktop for some industries, as online purchases simply wouldn’t be fit. The flight booking industry is one example.

It is 39% less likely for mobile users to confirm flight bookings on their phones. Instead, many prefer to use the desktop versions. 

This doesn’t mean that there still isn’t a great opportunity for marketing agencies and advertisers. E-commerce conducted through mobile phones was about 45% of all US e-commerce sales in 2020.

To put that into perspective, that’s roughly $284 billion in sales generated through mobile e-commerce alone. 

But even though people are browsing through products on their phones, they may not be purchasing them.

A recent study showed that 97% of all virtual carts are completely abandoned by mobile users. That’s a very high number compared to desktop virtual carts, which is only 75%. 

One way to circumvent that issue is by developing a dedicated mobile app instead of using mobile-oriented websites.

In a survey conducted recently, it was found that mobile apps have 100-300% higher conversion rates than websites. 

Final Word

Mobile phones are certainly taking over the steering wheel from desktop computers. Where there were once desktop computers, now mobile phones are dominating. 

And why not? We use mobiles for almost everything—E-commerce, browsing, and even consuming news media.

But the biggest culprit for high mobile usage is social media. Over 80% of all social media browsing is done through mobile phones. 

But it’s not just that. More YouTube videos are being streamed on more mobile devices than on desktops.

In recent years, the number of mobile users went as high as 47.59%. And that number will only continue to rise until it completely overtakes desktop computers. 

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Written by Jason Wise

Hello! I’m the editor at EarthWeb, with a particular interest in business and technology topics, including social media, privacy, and cryptocurrency. As an experienced editor and researcher, I have a passion for exploring the latest trends and innovations in these fields and sharing my insights with our readers. I also enjoy testing and reviewing products, and you’ll often find my reviews and recommendations on EarthWeb. With a focus on providing informative and engaging content, I am committed to ensuring that EarthWeb remains a leading source of news and analysis in the tech industry.
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