iPhone dominates Boingo airport access study

It's hard to believe that we're approaching the two-year anniversary of the original iPhone. I don't think it is hyperbole to say that the iPhone has completely transformed the mobile computing space. This is especially clear when evaluating mobile Wi-Fi usage data.

Today, Boingo Wireless released a data snapshot of mobile device access on its airport network of Wi-Fi hotspots. According to Boingo, airports are the number one venue for Wi-Fi access worldwide, so they make for a good data point when evaluating Wi-Fi usage.

For the past 24-months, Boingo has tracked its airport Wi-Fi data and the increase in mobile device uptake is astonishing. It's also driven almost entirely by the iPhone and the iPod touch.

Since May 2007, mobile device usage has gone from accounting for 0.1% of Boingo's airport Wi-Fi connections to 26.1%. In two years, the smartphone has gone from a non-entity to accounting for 1/4 of all of Boingo's connections.

Boingo has also tracked what type of devices associate with Boingo operated airport Wi-Fi hotspots. In 2007, the first year the iPhone was available, the iPhone only accounted for 1% of all mobile devices. Windows CE (Windows Mobile), was the leader in 2007, with 66% of mobile device connections. In 2008, the iPhone accounted for 51.7% of all mobile devices, with the iPod touch coming in second with 42.4%. For the first five months of 2009, the iPhone has taken an astounding 89.2% of all mobile devices accessing Boingo's airport hotspots. The iPod touch has dipped to 4.7%. I talked to Jeremy Pepper from Boingo PR and he said that they think the drop in the price of the iPhone is the reason iPod touch access figures have dipped, with the iPhone taking its place.

Although these figures are only from one Wi-Fi access source, the number of users that access Wi-Fi at the airport provides what I consider a good sample for data collection. In two years, not only has the mobile access space increased 261x, the iPhone OS accounts for nearly 94% of all mobile connections.

No wonder every other phone manufacturer is desperately trying to play catch-up!