Mobile becomes the preferred web access channel in Brazil

Mobile becomes the preferred web access channel in Brazil

Summary: Brazilians prefer to browse the web through their mobile phones but are not too excited about m-commerce, according to research

TOPICS: Mobility

The number of Brazilians accessing the web through their mobile devices has surpassed those who use desktops to browse the internet for the first time, according to research.

A study by Opera Software released this week canvassed 5,000 users of its mobile browser and found that 92 percent of the respondents accessed the web via their mobile device more often in 2013 against 14 percent who used their home computer. In 2012, the rates were 23 percent and 64 percent, respectively.

The survey adds that this year, 84 percent of respondents accessed the internet via their mobile devices every day of the week.

According to the Opera research, despite the growth in mobile browsing, m-commerce figures are not as bullish. As 72 percent of those surveyed said they didn't buy anything online through their phones. Out of the 19 percent  who made purchases, more than half (54 percent) bought apps and ringtones.  

Chances are that the slow growth of m-commerce in Brazil is partly related to the lack of technical maturity of the platforms available. According to a recent study by Brazilian mobile testing specialists deviceLab, which tested 80% of the main e-commerce websites in Brazil, all websites came up with some kind of error when accessed through a mobile device that prevented the successful conclusion of the purchase.  

The Brazilian government is making some attempts at fostering the further development of m-commerce and has recently released a new provisional act including a framework for products and services last month. And the government also expects that the number of mobile phone lines able to make payments in Brazil will reach 130 million in two years' time.

More facts and figures about the mobile landscape in Brazil:

  • Currently, there are approximately 260 million mobile phone lines in operation across the country;
  • The main mobile operators in Brazil are Vivo (part of the Telefónica group), Claro (owned by Mexican group América Móvil), Oi (partly owned by Portugal Telecom) , and TIM Brasil (a subsidiary of Telecom Italia);
  • Last month, the four largest mobile operators in Brazil launched their 4G commercial offerings across the cities where the Confederations Cup will take place this year;
  • The monthly cost of 4G services to end consumers varies from R$34.90 ($17.35) for a 600MB data plan to R$98 ($48.76) for a 5GB option;
  • According to Anatel, the Brazilian telecoms regulator, 40 percent of Brazilian mobile phone users are unhappy with the 3G services they currently get;
  • In July 2012, an 11-day ban was imposed by the government on signing up new clients on three of the four main mobile operators due to poor provision of services;
  • Telecoms body Anatel is currently leading a $30bi ($17.5bi) action plan for the improvement of personal mobile services.


Topic: Mobility

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  • Did I understand the methodology right...

    Opera asked their mobile users what method they use to access the internet and the answer was mobile? Wouldn't that be like going into a Coors beer tent and asking how many people prefer Budweiser?
    • Except that

      there has been other research done in 3rd world and developing countries that shows that people in those countries are skipping desktop computers and going straight to mobile hardware. This is especially true for business users, including farmers. The research above would not seem to be inconsistent with the other research.
  • So why is this news?

    in the past if you needed to look something simple up on the internet, you had to use your home computer - what else did people have?

    Now that smart phones are cheap or free, why run up stairs when the smartphone does the same thing where you're sitting?

    Not seeing the news here
    William Farrel
    • Maybe so in the U.S.

      ...but in Brazil, smartphones are still very expensive (the 3G Samsung S4 is about US$800 with a $200 monthly contract for a year, or up to $1,200 without the contract; more modest models aren't that much better), and a luxury item beyond most people's means. And getting the device is only half the problem, as data plans have erratic coverage, ludicrous small data caps, and very costly tariffs. "Upstairs" also assumes that one has a big two-storeyed house, which is also not true of most Brazilians, even upper middle class ones.

      So, such a growth in a year is indeed big news here. Sorry, no offense meant, but to a Brazilian, your remarks sounded just like Marie Antoinette telling people to eat cake...
      • Nothing wrong with cake

        But then are computers that prevalent in Brazil? I know here in the sates it's not unusual to have a few in one house, alone.

        But it also doesn't change the question that for a family with both a computer or cell phone, would using the cell still be easier, so the higher usage?
        William Farrel
        • Where do I begin?

          First, let's differentiate between cell phone usage and smartphone usage. Cell phone usage in Brazil is massive - even the poorest classes use it widely, and given that our phones are unlocked by law, and multiple-SIM phones are wildly popular (so people can enjoy special tariffs and promotions from several telcos at once), there are more cell number lines than inhabitants in Brazil. Prepaid dumbphones are the rule - only a minority pays phone bills.

          But smartphones with Internet access, while showing impressive growth in the last years, are not yet ubiquitous even in the middle class. For the moment, yes, PCs are more common than smartphones, although this may be reversed in one or two years more (it probably will). The bad 3G coverage in many areas (while still costing a lot) also doesn't encourage many people to get one. As for tablets, I don't see many when I go out - so far, they haven't caught very much.

          PCs are surprisingly common, and here again the profile is very different from the US. Laptops/notebooks are an elite product and not very common outside the wealthiest areas. But even in slums you will find desktops now, and in virtually 100% of middle class homes. In most homes other than the wealthiest, you won't find more than one, shared by the entire family (and often paid for by all, as well), but it's there. They are very cheap - not Dells or HPs, but assembled from spare parts and generic components by an army of friends, relatives, and garage businesses specialized in that. (For price reasons, AMD has a much larger market share here than in the U.S. as well.) Even the poorest classes are used to connecting to the Internet by PCs, as cybercafés are ubiquitous and very cheap, so even those who can't afford a PC of their own will use them there, or at work.

          Remember that Brazil has a very different social class structure from the U.S. While the U.S. has both some ultra-rich and some very destitute people, the vast majority is a relatively homogeneous and comfortable middle class. In Brazil, it's more like a pyramid-shaped structure, and the concentration of income is appalling. But there has been a remarkable overall improvement in income and living conditions, the middle class is rapidly growing and the poor are shrinking. Brazil is also an almost 90% urban country now. So, when you combine this rapid social shift with the no less rapid technological advances, it's very hard to predict how things will be in that respect in Brazil in just a few years.

          And as for whether it's more convenient to use a PC or a smartphone to surf the Web, it depends. Personally, I find it extremely clumsy and limiting to keep smudging the tiny screen with my fingers for that, and I only do that in emergencies, but if I were a youngster aching to use Twitter and Facebook (Brazil has the second largest number of FB users, behind only the U.S.), I'd certainly love to use a phone for that - wherever I was and with much more privacy from parents.
  • deviceLab Study

    Angelica, do you have a link to the deviceLab study mentioned?

  • The data I see daily

    I am an SEO at Sygma Technology in Sao Paulo, Brazil & have access to a variety of analytics accounts.
    I can not say that the data I see daily supports this study.
    If combining mobiles and tablets, I see about 40% access.
    That being said, the sites I have access to are on average used by high income visitors. It's possible that in lower income classes, access with mobile devices is more common.