iPhone conquers half the (smartphone) world
But there's an Android approaching
Apple's iPhone now accounts for 50 per cent of worldwide smartphone usage, according to a new report. But off in the distance, there's an Android approaching.
The latest traffic figures (PDF) from AdMob - the mobile ad-servicing shop recently acquired by Google - are less kind to Symbian and Palm. According to the report, Symbian's market share is nose-diving, and after a recent flirtation with growth, Palm's share is down as well.
The AdMob report - the latest installment in its ongoing Mobile Metrics series - must be taken with the requisite grains of salt, however. As the company freely acknowledges, the report is based upon data that AdMob acquires from its own ad-serving network. It "does not represent the traditional view of market share based on the number of handsets sold."
Still, information taken from billions of ad placements on 15,000 mobile Web sites plus iPhone and Android apps can provide insight into overall trends in the mobile marketplace.
Taken as a whole, the trends are clear. First, in the category of "tremendous grasp of the obvious", is the fact that smartphone usage is growing rapidly. A comparison of data taken from AdMob's Mobile Metric reports since early 2008 shows that worldwide smartphone usage has doubled from 22 per cent of handsets to 44 per cent:
Smartphone v dumbphone
More interesting are the trends in smartphone operating systems. Early last year, AdMob's data showed that Symbian-based smartphones held a commanding lead over any and all competition. Since then, however, the iPhone has crushed not only the Symbian OS, but other competitors as well.
Two data series stand out in AdMob's analysis. First, Palm's offerings (in the chart below, a combination of Palm OS and webOS) steadily sank until webOS was released on the Prē earlier this year - but the company's numbers have again begun to slide.
Second is the rapid rise of Android, which began taking off in late spring. AdMob reports that Android requests have risen by nearly a factor of six since April. Android phones have now out-polled formerly healthy RIM to take third place behind Apple and Symbian. A distant third, to be sure, but a bronze medal still gets you onto the winners' podium.
Here comes Android
But although the slope of RIM's trend line is negative, AdMob suggests that a BlackBerry resurgence is underway. Although the company's share numbers may be slipping, the raw number of ad requests is growing. "Worldwide requests from RIM devices increased 44 per cent over the last six months in the AdMob network," the report, well, reports.
AdMob - which also tracks ad requests by individual handsets - says the recently launched RIM Tour and new the versions of the Curve (8900 and 8520) are "gaining traction."
Interestingly, the BlackBerries that AdMob suggests you keep your eye on are keyboard-equipped and not iPhone imitators like the less-successful Storm, which AdMob's data indicates holds a 12 per cent share of the worldwide BlackBerry market. The healthiest BlackBerry remains the 8300 Curve, which has garnered about 45 per cent of the RIM share for the past six months.
It's also apparent that there has been an ongoing shakeout of smartphone competitors, with less-successful companies watching their share shrink drastically or disappear entirely. A look at AdMob data based on handset manufacturers and not operating systems shows that the share held by "other" has dropped to a quarter of what it was in the beginning of 2008.
It's a tough time to be an other - or Palm
The smartphone market is maturing, and to break into it will now take a player with not only deep pockets but also nerves of steel. And having an OS partner as determined as Google won't hurt. ®
Let's get a little historical perspective on Windows Mobile's performance:
"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It's a $500 subsidized item. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I'd prefer to have our software in 60% or 70% or 80% of them, than I would to have 2% or 3%, which is what Apple might get."
Yep, that's Steve "Crystal" Ballmer 2.5 years ago, bang on the money as usual.
And now for some less skewed figures from Gartner...
According to figures released on 12th Nov, 09 by Gartner, world’s leading information technology research and advisory company, Microsoft’s mobile OS witnessed a downfall from 11 % of the global smartphone market in Q3 2008 to 7.9 % later this year. The iPhone’s share saw a rise to 17.1 % from 12.9 %, and RIM’s share had risen from 16 percent to 20.8 percent. Symbian’s market share fell with 10% from 49.7 % to 44.6 % over the same period The new open-source Android operating system did not have any market share in Q3 2008, however, in Q3 2009, it had managed to capture 3.9 % of the smartphone market. Palm’s WebOS had 1.1 %, and other Linux-based mobile operating systems had 4.7 %
17.1% != 50%
According to the graph, Windows Mobile seems to be a rounding error. Hmm....
From iPhone to Sony Ericsson???
I think anyone who shifts from an iPhone back to another manufacturer's smartphone is in for an unpleasant surprise. I work in the mobile industry, and for the last five years or so I've had the opportunity to get my hands on the latest smartphones rather early. I have to confess that I'm slightly biased against WinMo, mainly due to poor experiences with early versions; but since I got an iPhone myself, I look at the latest new stuff that comes through our business and I'm hardly even tempted to pick it up and play with it anymore. People who use an iPhone get so used to the features and intuitiveness (OK, call me a fanboi) that I'd think they'd die of frustration trying to go back to one of the other interfaces, however slick - even my simple business Nokia which I love seems *less* intuitive now I've been using the iPhone for a while. I'll give the X10 a look when we get one but if I can't get all around it blindfold in less than 10 minutes it'll go back in the box...
Ads on iPhone/iPod touch
I've got rather a lot of apps (research, cough), and surprisingly few of them have advertising in them - certainly none of the paid apps have advertising at all.
Reports of intense piracy are probably pushing Admob's numbers for Apple devices up fast, as devs try to mitigate the damage by trying out (if not entirely relying on) advertising. If it pays, it'll only get better.
Personally I'm amazed it pays at all, but I guess Admob's numbers aren't likely to correlate to click-throughs...