Mobile devices overtaking airport WiFi connections
There was a time when laptops were the preferred computing devices of airport-goers. Now, with the advent of smartphones and tablet computers, travelers have evidently found a new favorite toy.
According to research from WiFi services provider Boingo Wireless, mobile devices have surpassed laptops in terms of airport wireless use. In June 2011, smartphones and tablets accounted for nearly 60 percent of airport WiFi connections.
Boingo, which manages WiFi networks in 60 airports in North American and Europe, notes that the WiFi device market has grown five-fold since 2007. Laptop WiFi connections have doubled in this time, but smartphones and tablet computers -- which were nearly negligible in 2007 -- have constituted the majority of the growth.
"Given the latest numbers, I think it's safe to say 2011 is the year WiFi became an essential part of mobile internet connectivity," says Boingo Wireless vice president of consumer marketing Dawn Callahan.
These figures may not be surprising, given that portability is among the most-cited benefits of tablets and smartphones. For example, an August 2011 Staples Advantage study shows that 90 percent of survey respondents identify portability as the best reason for owning a tablet.