More Consumers Go Mobile for Internet Access Credit: Facebook Mobile image courtesy of Facebook

Another nail has been driven into the PC's coffin. Increasingly, consumers are forsaking PC-based Internet access and using mobile devices as their default gateway to the online world, new research shows. This will send major tremors through the digital ecosystem.

In the United States, the number of people accessing the Internet by PCs will shrink from 240 million this year to 225 million in 2016, according to a worldwide study based on almost 250,000 data points conducted by the International Data Corp., an IT research firm.

At the same time, the number of mobile users will increase from 174 million to 265 million, marking the first time that more U.S. consumers will be accessing the Internet through mobile devices than through PCs.

The United States is leading the trend of consumer mobile Internet usage beginning to displace PC usage, with Western Europe and Japan about two years behind, IDC said. This will affect a number of industry sectors.

Online PC activities will be affected as consumers take their usage mobile. IDC expects the share of users accessing social networks such as Facebook on their PCs will decline from 60 percent this year to 52 percent in 2016.

Worldwide mobile advertising will almost quintuple from $6 billion in 2011 to 28.8 billion in 2016 and worldwide business-to-consumer (B2C) mobile commerce spending will grow sixfold between 2011 and 2016, reaching $223 billion at the end of the forecast period, IDC said.

"There has been much talk about the future of the Internet will be mobile first and PC second," said Karsten Weide, media and entertainment program vice president at IDC. "In the United States, the future is now. The Great PC Exodus on the Internet is happening because the PC was never truly a consumer product. Many consumers use them because there was no better alternative. Now, with the huge and growing installed base of more user-friendly tablets and smartphones, there are."

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.