Women Adopt Mobile Web at Growing Rates, Says Opera

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The number of women accessing the Web from their phones is growing faster than the number of males, said Opera Software after surveying users of its Mini browser.

In two years, the number of female Mini users has grown by 575 percent, compared to an increase of 233 percent among men. Of the countries surveyed, South Africa had at 43.5 percent the highest proportion of female users, followed by the U.S., Russia and the U.K.

The survey, displayed to Mini users on their handsets, was deployed in 9 languages and focused on 15 countries. As of August 10, 300,000 responses had been collected, according to Opera.

At the other end of the spectrum, India, Nigeria, China and Vietnam had the lowest proportion of female users. In India and Nigeria, women represented only 4 percent and 5.4 percent of the users.

In general, people have become more aware of the concept of surfing the Web on their mobile phones, according to Opera. It can be by word-to-mouth, the operators offering more options, as well as the media covering the phenomenon more and more, an Opera spokeswoman said via e-mail.

The growing number of female users is down to applications, not hardware, according Roberta Cozza, principal analyst with Gartner Research. Attracting women is not about putting out pink phones, but developing useful applications that, for example, help women juggle work and family life, she said. Social networking and the use of location-based services is also helping attract more women, and increased buying power among women is also boosting their use of smartphones, according to Cozza.

However, male users still outnumber female users by a wide margin, according to Opera. The global ratio of male to female mobile Web users is now 77 percent to 23 percent, compared to 88 percent to 12 percent two years ago, Opera estimates.

To continue to lure more female users, operators, smartphone makers and third party application developers have to work together to develop more services that are attractive to women, according to Cozza.

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