Android and iPhone traffic roughly equal, but iPad is where the action is at

By April 23, 2012Apple, Google, Mobile

I love the fact that every week someone releases some new and powerful data into the public domain, often for free. This week Chitika has released data from a panel of 200,000 US websites which shows market share for iOS, Android and other mobile OS’s. Observers of the mobile industry will remember that Android overtook the iPhone to become the market leader by device sales last year, but for me that was always a slightly misleading statistic. Many Android phones are pretty low end and market share by internet usage is a much more interesting measures, and that is what the folks at Chitika are counting.

As you can see from the chart below iOS dominates overall, but if you strip out the iPad (and iPod, for what it’s worth) then we see that the iPhone and Android are more or less equal at around 25% each. Unfortunately the data released doesn’t go back very far and we can’t see a trend, but given the way device sales are going I would expect Android is gaining at the expense of the iPhone. Mobile app developers should look keenly at this data as it will inform their choice of which platform to develop for first. My observations in the market are that most people still develop for the iPhone first. That may start to change.

Stripping out the iPad data makes sense to me because tablets don’t compete with smartphones. If there is any Android tablet traffic in the Android figure it should be reversed out to give a true comparison with the iPhone. However given that the iPad dominates the tablet market I wouldn’t expect any changes to be more than 10-20% of the Android total (note also that Amazon’s Kindle Fire, probably the best selling Android tablet, is more geared for reading books than using the internet).

The final thing to note is that the iPad is much larger than the iPhone and Android, despite it’s lower unit sales (iPad’s are 50-60% of iPhones). This is testament to the suitability of the tablet format for browsing and app usage, and underlines the fact that we use our tablets very differently to our smartphones.

  • Scott

    Hi Nic, you say

    “Mobile app developers should look keenly at this data as it will inform their choice of which platform to develop for first. My observations in the market are that most people still develop for the iPhone first. That may start to change.”

    Did you men change to iPad first or Android first?

    If Android shouldn’t there be more consideration that just web usage? Along with the fragmentation issue, what about the fact that Android users seem to buy (use?) less apps and so less money is coming.

    Interesting article about potential future problems with Android

    http://www.businessinsider.com/android-is-suddenly-in-a-lot-of-trouble-2012-4

    I think they are overstating it but there is definitely a kernel to their story

  • http://www.theequitykicker.com brisbourne

    Hi Scott – the Android ecosystem definitely has its challenges (particularly fragmentation and upgrades) and iOS may manage to reverse the trend, but on smartphones the flow has largely been in one direction for a while now. Ultimately I think the most important factor will be devices – if the next iPhone is as big a step forward as the iPhone 4 was then depending on what Samsung etc come up with things may well swing back towards Apple, otherwise my best guess is that things will remain as they are.
    I think tablets are a different, younger market, and there iOS is totally dominant so far, again based on superiority of devices. Amazon’s decision to fork Android bodes ill for the Android ecosystem generally in this segment of the market.