Trashed as a two-bit iPhone clone when it launched, Sprint Nextel’s (S) Samsung Instinct appears to be doing well. The latest bit of evidence: Instinct owners are gobbling up a substantial amount of the mobile Web — which means there can’t just be a few of them.
In its monthly report of U.S. mobile Web activity, ad network AdMob said the Instinct accounted for 5.4% of traffic from smartphones in August — the fifth-highest phone they measured, and up from 3.3% in July. Apple’s (AAPL) popular iPhone, meanwhile, accounted for 7.8% of smartphone traffic — the fourth-highest phone, and up from 5.2% in July. (Beating both: Two BlackBerries and Palm’s cheap, fast-selling Centro.)
A different metric, ad requests from Samsung Instincts, neared 1 million per day at the end of August, up from about 600,000 per day at the beginning of the month. Meanwhile, the iPhone increased to about 1.7 million ad requests per day, also up from about 600,000 at the beginning of August.
What does this mean? Nothing huge. AdMob’s stats only measure activity on mobile Web sites they sell ads on. So, for instance, it’s possible that Sprint has bookmarking or distribution deals with more AdMob sites than other carriers, which would make Instinct traffic disproportionately strong. Or something else along those lines.
But it’s the latest in a series of signs — initial supplies sold out, record sales at Best Buy — that the Instinct is performing well for beleaguered Sprint — which can use every morsel of good news it can get.
Why is the Instinct’s success such good news for Sprint? It could suggest that the carrier is finally attracting new customers after bleeding them for so long. Or at the very least, that its existing customers are upgrading to the Instinct — and to monthly service plans that include mobile Web subscriptions, a key growth area for Sprint and all carriers.
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