The iOS and Android Mobile Web Disparity

on November 1, 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]