The iOS and Android Mobile Web Disparity

by Ben Bajarin   |   November 1st, 2011

There are two interesting data points released that I think is worth asking some questions. The first comes from Net Applications and it plots out mobile web browsing OS share by platform. The full chart is below.

What strikes me in this chart is the clearly dominant iOS platform when it comes to mobile web browsing over all platforms. It needs to be pointed out that Net Applications is tracking iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch but also all Android phones and tablets. We know there are now well more than 250 million iOS devices in the market so there is a clear lead in volume over Android. However, at the same time we know that Android is growing explosively fast. Even with the Android explosive growth it seems that Android customers are still not nearly as heavy web browsers as iOS consumers.

One other point on the Net Applications chart is that since it does contain iPad, and we know iPad is rapidly climbing the charts with web browsing share on its own, then we need to also look at a similar chart without iPad. That is exactly what StatCounter provides us with.

In the chart below we see a picture of web browsing OS share with only hand-held devices, so not including tablets.

This shows a very close picture of iOS to Android hand-held only browser share but still showing iOS in the lead. Still interesting that iPhone and iPod touch account for more web browsing than all Android smartphones in the market. So again it appears that even with hand-held devices iOS consumers browse the web more than Android consumers.

I have a few observations.

First iOS is a superior web browsing experience. Having used both platforms quite a bit I can attest to this fact that the web browsing experience on iOS is better than on Android.

Android consumers are using more apps than browsing the web. This has come back true from many of our Android consumer interviews. They use more of the native apps for search, Facebook, Twitter, etc and conveyed to us that general web browsing is less of a use case for them. This again will vary between power user and average consumer, but still true in a general sense.

iPad is poised to become one of the most dominant web browsing platforms. I have not been shy in proclaiming how touch computing and the tablet form factor is the computer for the future. I’ve also stated that in my opinion web browsing is better on a tablet than on a PC. When we look at the Net Applications chart, which includes iPad, we see how wide the gap with iOS is when the iPad is counted in mobile web browsing. This is an incredibly significant trend and one that should concern Google.

Overall all Google still gets a serious chunk of revenue from iOS devices when it comes to mobile search. The fact that in iOS 5 consumer can change their search engine preference should concern Google greatly.

Every company in mobile search needs to understand this data. It demonstrates how tablets are not only more than a fad but how important they are to the mobile web of the future.

[Other Good Articles VIA BGR, Fortune, SlashGear,GigaOM]

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Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research. He is a husband, father, gadget enthusiast, trend spotter, early adopter and hobby farmer. Full Bio
  • http://www.facebook.com/rick.heggem Rick Heggem

    Using this logic and data, shouldn’t the wireless carriers promote the Android devices and downplay the iOS devices since they represent the same revenue stream with a much smaller bandwidth load?

    • Anonymous

      Interesting point Rick!

      • Anonymous

        Are you not going to give any credit to Philip Elmer Dewitt’s charts then. Ben?

        • Anonymous

          Those were not Philips charts they were Net Applications and StatCounters whom I credited.

          • Anonymous

            so the bit under the graphics on Fortune that reads:

            “Sources: Net Applications, StatCounter. Chart: PED”

            Is wrong?

          • Anonymous

            You are right, a colleague of mine was wrong. I swapped the charts with the original sources instead of using the ones he created using their data.

          • Anonymous

            It is also slightly disappointing that people feel he should get credit for making a carbon copy of their charts. I’d rather give credit to the original creators of data and charts not someone who carbon copied it and took credit for the image. I just don’t see how that makes sense. Am I crazy?

          • Anonymous

            Yes, you are crazy.

            As we discussed on twitter if someone takes someones data and creates an infographic, however crude – as PED’s graphs were – but they were certainly clearer and more consistent way of presenting the data, then he has created something original giving credit to the data sources.

            Just because it is on the Internet, does not make it copyright free. If you cannot see it then you don’t seem to grasp what Intellectual property is.

            You are accusing him of taking someones data and making it clearer. You took those images and posted them here without credit, because you felt that Philip Elmer DeWitt “just stole them”, neglecting to point out that his images actually made the information clearer as the current graphs on this page illustrate.

            Going to someone’s website and just cutting out the drop shadow from the bottom right of someone else’s images is copyright theft. If you had credited him or at the very least asked him for permission then maybe you would have a point. But instead you are claiming that just because he used someone’s data then he has forfeited his rights to his image.

            Think about that please.

          • Anonymous

            I agree. If I had known they were his not actually the charts from StatCounter or Net Applications then I would have used the originals, but the files were sent to me.

            I am ok with him re-creating the data but as I stated it is frustrating when journalists take data and then re-create the chart making it look nearly identical but using their own so the original’s brand is gone. Any monkey could have done what he did and in the process the original creators of those charts lost their valuable branding.

            Had he re-arranged the data in some original way to make it look fresh rather then basically re-creating the charts and having them look the basically the same then I would have used his and credited him.

            I have been in this position where journalists take our data with our logo and brand in it and strip it out with their own chart. Then to find their chart looks nearly identical to ours but with no logo and only a text credit. It’s just not cool in my opinion, unless you truly make the chart stand out in an original way.

            That is why I instead got the originals.

          • Anonymous

            As I said I wasn’t claiming it was art but what he did do was take the graphs that the data sources provided and made it clearer to understand. It was so clear to understand that you ran with it. The current images are less clear. You could have powered up Excel or Numbers and made some original images as Philip did, but instead you seem to feel that because someone else took the data (with full credit to the data sources) then it was OK to use them.

            “I have been in this position where journalists take our data with our logo and brand in it and strip it out with their own chart. Then to find their chart looks nearly identical to ours but with no logo and only a text credit.”

            Except in this case it wasn’t “nearly identical” was it? It was the same image with the drop shadow cut off from the bottom right of each image. That isn’t nearly identical that is cut and paste. You may not consider changing the scale of an image as creative work but PED’s charts made the information much clearer. As you have been in this position then you should understand why I called you on it.

          • Anonymous

            Of course that is why I changed it. And I am glad you did I would have either given him credit or used the original as I did, it would not have been left unchanged after it was brought to my attention. I am very careful to give credit where credit is due because I see it happen to our data often. It was my fault for not catching that they were not the original charts early.

            I agree the prior images are less clear and as such his are better. Sort of a rock in a hard place when the original images are not incredibly great but I still sympathize with StatCounter in particular since they water marked their image and i’m sure were hoping this data would get their brand out there.

          • http://fortune.com/apple20 Philip Elmer-DeWitt

            Hey Ben, where did you get the idea to look at those two particular sets of data in the first place? If you got it from another site, don’t you think you ought to offer your readers a link to the original piece? A simple “Via Fortune” would be sufficient. And good form.

          • Anonymous

            I am a technology industry analyst and on all the same pr releases you are, so the VIA was technically the companies themselves who got in touch with me. Many people forward me data but I am in the unique position as an analyst to be able to write more public analysis and that is exactly why we created this site with a stable of other analysts and industry experts.

            We do not regurgitate content like many sites out there since we are not a blog but only focus on 100% original content in the form of editorial and columns. I did however survey the landscape from every major source to make sure I didn’t say anything that someone else has already. If you survey the body of my work on this site or on TIME.com (where I am a columnist) you will find I always credit people with a quote and a link when they have a thought or point I think is well stated. However all of my research and data, consumer and industry analysis is my own. When it is not I make sure to point it out and and give credit where credit is due for original data and original thoughts.

            I hope that answers your question.

          • http://fortune.com/apple20 Philip Elmer-DeWitt

            So your answer is that you got press releases today from Net Applications and StatCounters that highlighted these particular sets of data, and that’s why you decide to write this piece?

          • Anonymous

            I track this data heavily and subscribe to a range of services so I get many alerts in email. It was a colleague who sent me the links to the Net Applications data and the StatCounter data as well as alerting me which data came out today. After having a conversation about the data and getting clarification from StatCounter on their methodology I decided to write it.

            I actually read the BGR article on it first as I was seeing what else was being said. Does that mean I need to credit BGR since they were the first article I read, even though I had already decided to write it?

            If that is the case then let me know the protocol. As I said I am an analyst not a journalist so I don’t know how these things work but I do want to do things correctly. Our goal is simply to put out quality original thought and analysis.

            I appreciate your feedback on this matter.

          • http://fortune.com/apple20 Philip Elmer-DeWitt

            Thanks for asking, Ben.

            If you are building on someone else’s work, the convention is to cite the source and provide a link. It’s intellectually honest, doesn’t cost you anything and builds good will. Also you avoid irritating discussion threads like this one.

            Best, Philip

          • Anonymous

            Got it. Updated and will do in the future. Thanks for explaining, much appreciated.

            Bb

          • Anonymous

            Ok, I added the VIA. I don’t understand what the VIA is supposed to represent. What we have been doing is just linking to articles in our article when we think people should read them. Also we have a recommend reading section where we are just linking the article outright and not providing any commentary.

            If I understand what the heck VIA is supposed to mean I will use it correctly in the future.

    • Erick

      It is not at all clear that Android devices represent the same revenue stream or have a smaller bandwidth load. Consider the Sprint CEO’s recent comments that iPhone users consume only half as much data as Android users.

      There are a couple of possible explanations for this seeming contradiction. One is that Android devices use a significant amount of data outside of web browsing compared with iPhones, or that they spend more time on 3G versus Wi-Fi (hence not a smaller bandwidth load). Another would be that a significant portion of Android phones, particularly at the low-end, are not purchased with a data plan (hence not the same revenue stream).

      • Anonymous

        Ok let’s explore that, you make good points. Comparing Sprint is hard because currently there are more Android devices on Sprint’s network than iPhone’s so i’m not sure it is apples to apples yet. AT&T has been clear that iPhone users use more data than Android, but the same is true that they have more iPhones than Android.

        Also the data from Net Applications and StatCounter looks at actual web use from the browser not 3G or 4G data. So what we are seeing is actual browser usage regardless of how the devices connected.

        I do think you are right though that Android owners are doing more data through apps.

  • Anonymous

    The fact that in iOS 5 consumer can change their search engine preference should concern Google greatly.

    Uh…you could do this in iOS 4 as well, I’m pretty sure.

    • Franc012

      You can do this in android too.

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