Mobile Market Share on the Move - Is Android Superior?

July 19th, 2010 by Richard Zwicky

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It would appear that based on data which would indicate people’s habit with their mobile devices, that the Android offers a better user experience for surfing the Internet than the Google iPhone. While the Android and the iPhone’s share of the overall browser market continues to grow, it is surprising to note that despite the iPhone’s lead in activations, mobile web usage of phone browsers powered by Google’s Android appears to be picking up steam faster than Apple’s iPhone.

The last time I posted market share numbers around web browser referrals to web sites from mobile devices, the various devices had not yet even broken a combined 1% total share.  It appears that milestone’s long gone now, as shown in the chart below.  Looking at the graph, and data, there’s more going on beyond the obvious “Google’s Android web usage is exploding faster than Apple’s iPhone.”  The reality is while that fact is important, and can be attributed in part to the diversity (60)  of devices running the Android OS, versus the four devices running Apple’s iphone, the diversity of devices in stores is minor compared to the fact that there are many more Apple iPhone devices in circulation. Apple sold 1.7 million iPhone 4’s within days of release along, and has years worth activation , compared to 160,000 Android phones being activated daily.  That gap pales when comparing the mobile browser usage numbers.

A while back Steve Jobs was quoted that most iPhone activity goes via apps, versus search or traditional browser.  I found that comment interesting as it reflects a different layer of Internet activity which most of us ignore.  While this likely is true, the stunning growth rate in overall web browser usage from Androids v. iPhones reveals something else: People with Android phones use them quite differently from those who have iPhones.

While putting together these numbers, I happened to read Peter Sims’ Tech Crunch’s article “Is Google at Risk of Becoming the Next Microsoft.”  When I look at these numbers, the answer definitely becomes no.  Just the innovation is not in the same area as before.

Now, I don’t own either an Android or an iPhone.  I do have a Blackberry Bold 2, which is great for email and has good sound quality, but it lacks the quality browser experience which might entice me to surf via my phone.  If I have to look something up online using my Blackberry, it’s a last resort.  Conversely, that function is key to both the Android and iPhone.  However, it appears that despite Apple’s massive lead in total footprint based on activations, Android is making that experience much more positive, and as a consequence, Android owners are much more likely to surf using their devices.

The web sites which we are tracking, and using as a basis for the data that we are reporting are not likely to be accessed directly via apps.   Apologies for the timescale jump, for those who like the raw numbers:

iPhone Android Blackberry
July 0.448% 0.038% 0.026%
Aug 0.591% 0.045% 0.033%
Sept 0.583% 0.043% 0.041%
Oct 0.663% 0.049% 0.044%
July 2010 1.070% 0.483% 0.051%

Eightfold Logic collects data from a network of web sites distributed globally.

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11 Responses to “Mobile Market Share on the Move - Is Android Superior?”

  1. How come there’s no traffic from Nokia phones?

    Not enough data, or some other reason?

  2. Richard Zwicky says:

    Hi Søren,

    I was trying to focus on the three which have the biggest referral data footprint which we are seeing. Nokia obviously has a massive install base, but perhaps the user experience for surfing the Net is not as appealing. (?) It was interesting, I was in a Verizon store recently to replace my phone which had failed. I was looking at an Android and the Blackberry Bold 2, both appealed to me for different reasons. I had a question about the batteries for the phones, and when I asked the store personnel, rather than answering directly, she said “are you interesting in gaming and surfing off your phone, or will it be more for placing calls and email? When I indicated the latter, she said go with the Bold. She then told me how she owned an Android powered phone, and loved it, most importantly the UI / UX, but that her bby was the one she depended on for work.

    I’ve actually had quite a bit of email on this, and will publish another post shortly as a follow on, with a poll - I look forward to your thoughts!

  3. [...] quite a bit of email about the post showing how Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android OS powered phones are surging, but Google’s seem to drive more people online. I’m not ignoring Nokia’s offerings, nor do I [...]

  4. I feel there is also a close relationship with the fact that Android phones shortly after the new year had larger screens than the iPhone which made using the browser more practical.

  5. Lewis Francis says:

    What is the evidence for the Android offering a better experience, or “seem to drive more people online” statements? Is this private data or something you can provide an attribution source? Thanks.

    Anecdotally, I tend to lean towards app use while other iPhone users in our shop prefer mobile versions of their favorite websites. In my mind, the apps offer a far superior user experience to browsing the non-mobile websites, somewhat less so than the mobile versions of same.

  6. Richard Zwicky says:

    Hi Lewis,

    The evidence is in the data. We collect data from thousands of web sites, and I’m using at an aggregate (anonymized) here.

    There’s no question that a ton of people use apps, rather than surf directly. I too prefer apps on my iPad, but still use Safari a ton. Both devices have a ton of apps for almost all the most popular resources. However, when we look at just the # of people who actually surf outside of apps, the numbers are very interesting.

  7. Lewis Francis says:

    Thanks Richard. Regarding the iPad, I tend towards inverting my behavior when on that device.

  8. [...] feel this mobile search & browsing explosion, as Eightfold logic is showing with a small sample set, stems in large part to Android providing this mobile [...]

  9. [...] feel this mobile search & browsing explosion, as Eightfold logic is showing with a small sample set, stems in large part to Android providing this mobile [...]

  10. rankpay says:

    Personally I think that Google Buzz’s submission was a little too early, especially with the recent concern of privacy. I also think that Google is going down the same future that Windows went through around the era of Windows 98. The past few products and products seem to be less and less planned and I feel that rushed in an attempt to be 1st to market, and or compete with its competitors releases. The breach of privacy was was a problem that did not require a PHD in CS to figure out, a very simple review would have identified these issues. Do you think Google may have received too much credit last year?

  11. [...] feel this mobile search & browsing explosion, as Eightfold logic is showing with a small sample set, stems in large part to Android providing this mobile [...]

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