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Female mobile Web users up 575pc in two years: study

The number of woman surfing the mobile Web has grown more than 575 percent in the last two years, according to an Opera Software study.

Opera surveyed 300,000 mobile Web users for its monthly State of the Mobile Web, and found significant growth in female usage since 2008. This trend has drastically increased the number of mobile Internet users worldwide and provides extra incentive for marketers to target handheld devices.

?Knowing that the number of female mobile Web users is on the rise should help convince some marketers who may have previously avoided mobile advertising to take it more seriously,? said Thomas Ford, senior communications manager at Opera, Oslo, Norway.

Opera is the developer of the Opera Mini and Opera Mobile Web browsers.

Opera?s State of the Mobile Web report highlights trends in Opera Mini mobile Web usage.

Study findings
The two countries with the highest percentage of women using the mobile Web are South Africa and the United States.

Forty-four percent of all South Africans on the mobile Web are women, compared to 36 percent of all U.S. mobile Web users.

South Africa?s female mobile Web browsers jumped 18.8 points, from 24.7 percent in 2008.

Likewise, the U.S. total is up 16.2 points, from 19.4 percent two years ago.

Russia (32.4 percent) and Britain (31.5 percent) rank third and fourth in terms of female mobile Web users worldwide.

However, a number of countries have produced significant gender gaps in mobile Web usage, pulling the worldwide percentage of females accessing the Internet from handhelds down.

Those countries include India (4 percent), Nigeria (5.4 percent) and China (11.6 percent).

?We need more female mobile Web users in certain countries,? said Thomas Ford, senior communications manager at Opera, Oslo, Norway. ?In India, only 4 percent of mobile web users are women.

?I think it boils down to educating consumers that they can use the Web on almost any phone,? he said. ?More campaigns to target females in the 18-27 age group would seem wise, particularly in countries that have lower percentages.

?It would not only help close the gender gap, but probably make good business sense.?

However, even countries with low percentages of women have experienced gains in mobile gender equality.

For example, the percentage of female mobile Web users in China increased from 5.5 percent to 11.6 percent since 2008.

Likewise, mobile Web usage among women in the Ukraine increased from 8.5 percent to 24.2 percent.

Other countries that experience large gains in female mobile Web usage include Russia (12.5 percent to 32.4 percent) and Britain (16.6 percent to 31.4 percent).

?I think the demographic of the mobile Web should begin to reflect more of the Web as a whole,? Mr. Ford said. ?We have clearly exited the early-adopter stage and are now ?crossing the chasm? so to speak.?

Mobile battle of the sexes
A significant body of research has been directed to understanding which consumers are using the mobile Web and how they are using it.

For example, a recent InsightExpress report said that men do more mobile shopping than women (see story).

On the other hand, a study done by Myxer found that females download twice as much mobile content as males (see story).

?Marketers should pay close attention to the demographic information, particularly in the U.S., where the age distribution is somewhat more even than in other countries,? Mr. Ford said.