New data charted by Philip Elmer-Dewitt at Fortune shows that Apple’s utter dominance of mobile web traffic continues.This despite the fact that Android is clobbering Apple’s iPhone and iPad in mobile-unit market share, especially globally.
Given Android’s market share lead, Android should also have a greater share of mobile web traffic.
But it doesn’t.
In fact, Android’s web traffic is pathetically small.
As this chart from Elmer-Dewitt shows (based on data from NetMarketShare), Apple devices account for more than 60% of mobile web traffic, while Android devices account for only 20%.
Meanwhile, ecommerce sites continue to report that the vast majority of mobile buying comes from Apple devices, not Android.
So this begs some key questions:
- Who is actually using Android devices?
- Why don’t they read or buy anything? (Relatively speaking)
Anecdotally, it seems that Android handsets are somewhat popular within the tech early-adopter market and in the true consumer mass market–the latter via low-end, cheaper smartphones.
The heavy-user-and-buyer end of the mass market, meanwhile, seems to be devoted to Apple.
If that’s true– if Android is mostly used by poorer middle-market consumers who don’t particular care about reading or buying anything–that’s a very important thing to keep in mind when assessing Apple vs. Android market share.
Because if those folks aren’t using the web much or buying much, they’re also going to be far less valuable to Google as search users.And, just as important, they’re also not likely to be particularly heavy app users, which diminishes the value of Android as an app platform.
The key issue here, which has been playing out for the past several years, is what company will become the dominant mobile development platform. Tech markets tend to standardize around single platforms, and the vast majority of the value in each platform sector accrues to the dominant platform. (Apple got killed in the 1990s in PCs because Microsoft became the dominant platform).
Android is certainly amassing a dominant position in global handset market share–it now has more than 50% of the market, while Apple has less than 30%. But this market share is not helping Android with the most critical segment of the market–the folks who use the web and buy stuff.
If that lack of usage intensity extends to the app market–if Android users don’t really care about using their phones as a platform to do anything other than make phone calls and send email–then Android’s value as a platform will be vastly lower than its raw market-share numbers would suggest.
And that’s bad news for Google.
My colleague Jay Yarow recently argued that Android is suddenly in a whole lot of trouble. This latest web-usage data clearly supports that contention.
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