JiWire Reported WiFi Use Up in Q4-2009: Does Free Airport WiFi from Google & Others Explain That Spike?

In my previous blog entry, I noted that I am not planning to buy a 3G/4G/WiFi router since I am usually in range of a WiFi access point. So, when I read this headline from MobileMarketer.com…

Consumers increasingly opt for WiFi for mobile browsing: Study

…I thought it might be a nice piece to generalize my personal situation. But, wait, where is this analysis coming from? The report was produced by JiWire that is in the business of selling advertisement on captive WiFi environments (think airports). It is in their best interest to promote not just WiFi usage but also to encourage people to use commercial WiFi hotspots.

I’m not saying that JiWire’s data is incorrect. In fact, I believe it is most likely correct. But, what is it really telling us? They note Q2-2009 to Q4-2009 data indicating WiFi usage went up 9% while WiFi+3G-Card use dropped 6% and 3G data card use dropped 3%.

So, what might explain this change? How about this? Do you recall that Google and other firms offered free WiFi in airports during the 2009 holiday season (4Q-2009)? That might explain a percentage point or two (or more) since airports are one of JiWire’s prime service areas. We’ll probably have a better view of WiFi usage in such areas by comparing 4Q-2009 to the first half of 2010.