Boingo Survey Finds Phones And Tablets Trumping Laptops In Airport Wi-Fi Usage

Is Wi-Fi important? Certainly. And it's becoming more so to travelers each and every day. We spotted a survey a year or so ago where an impressive amount of people suggested that Wi-Fi was about the more important asset in an airport, possibly even more important than a solid selection of food. Now a new Boingo survey is digging a little deeper into Wi-Fi usage at airports.

If you aren't familiar with that name, Boingo is a hotspot company that installs paid Wi-Fi in a variety of places; most notably, airport terminals around the globe. Buy a single Boingo account, and you can online on any of their hotspots. So naturally, they have a great pool of data to pull from. Boingo manages 60 airport Wi-Fi networks in North America, Europe and Asia, and acts as the aggregator of more than 400,000 hotspots around the world.

Recently, they found that mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) surpassed laptops as the most widely carried Wi-Fi device in airports, reaching 58.9% of all devices in June. Mobile devices passed the 50% mark for the first time in February 2011. That's pretty impressive; those figures would've looked drastically different even five years back.

The research also found that the overall size of the Wi-Fi device market has increased fivefold in the last five years, with laptops doubling overall while the explosive growth of smartphones/tablets constituted the bulk of the growth. As for specific operating systems? iOS has a commanding market share of mobile devices actively using Wi-Fi in those same venues, representing more than 83% of mobile total.  Android more than tripled its market share from 2010, but is still a distant fourth place to iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices. Data consumption among mobile devices continues to increase both on a monthly basis and on a per-minute basis. This points to an increase in higher bandwidth activities that will likely test the limits of some users’ tiered 3G data plans.

So, what are you toting in the airport more these days? And is your laptop feeling a little left out?