Ina Fried

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Led by Apple’s iPhone and iPad, Mobile Devices Now Dominate Airport Wi-Fi

Not long ago, airport Wi-Fi connections were dominated by laptops, with only a small number of mobile phones hopping onto such networks.

These days, though, smartphones and tablets make up more than half of such connections, according to new data released on Tuesday by Boingo Wireless. February was the first month that mobile devices outnumbered laptops; by May, such devices amounted to 59 percent of Wi-Fi connections.

A year ago, laptops represented two-thirds of Boingo’s connections, and two years ago, just a quarter of machines accessing the airport Wi-Fi networks were mobile devices.

“Since the launch of the iPhone in June 2007, we’ve seen a marked growth trend for non-laptop devices, but the exponential growth in iPhones and iPads in the last year pushed mobile devices past laptops, showcasing just how disruptive the trend is,” Boingo VP Dawn Callahan said in a statement.

Boingo notes that laptops aren’t going away — mobile devices are just proliferating much faster. There are twice as many laptops, for example, than there were in 2007. However the smartphone has taken off, fueled by the launch of the iPhone in June of 2007.

Apple’s iOS continues to dominate the mobile space, accounting for 83 percent of the mobile total. Combined, all Android devices are still a distant fourth place behind the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch when it comes to popularity on Boingo’s network.

The findings mirror a rise in mobile devices using inflight Wi-Fi, such as that offered by Gogo. In the air, iPads account for more than a third of big-screen connections, compared to about 20 percent for Macs and 41 percent for Windows PCs. Android devices trail Apple’s mobile products on Gogo’s networks as well.

Mobile devices are also gobbling up a lot more data than they did just two years earlier, Boingo said. On a monthly basis, the average mobile device consumed 211 megabytes of data in June, compared with 114 megabytes in May 2009. And the devices are also consuming that data in less time, gulping an average of 8.9 megabytes in every 10 minutes of use, compared with 3.7 megabytes in the same period two years earlier.


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