updated 01:30 pm EDT, Wed April 3, 2013
Survey credits iPad dominance, US iPhone sales for engagement
Another survey, this time from Piper Jaffray tech sector analyst Gene Munster, adds to a number of other surveys of the US mobile web traffic landscape and finds that the iOS platform both dominates and is growing its share of user engagement in Internet-related mobile use. As with the other studies, Munster's analysis of a hand-picked list of 10 of the top 100 mobile websites found that iOS traffic accounts for around 65 percent of mobile visits during the past two months, while Android made up only 30 percent of mobile traffic.
The study, which cannot be considered scientific in its methodology, is somewhat naturally inclined to favor iOS due to its focus on the US market: unlike other parts of the world, iOS devices make up the majority of sales at all of the major carriers, and Apple's share of the US mobile market has recently expanded, taking share away from Android devices. Another factor is the focus on web traffic as a measure of popularity: many lower-end Android models are little more than glorified feature phones or gaming devices rather than full smartphones, and users with those models have a much lower level of web engagement than, for example, users of premium Android devices such as the Galaxy S III, which is much more of a rival to the iPhone than low-end Android devices.
Nevertheless, both other surveys and anecdotal evidence suggests that iPhone and iPad users do dominate both US and worldwide mobile web traffic and other end-user usage studies, adding support to the idea that one of the factors behind Android's lackluster performance in these areas is an over-reliance on "shipment" data as translating directly to end-user sales. Munster himself credits Apple's dominance of the tablet sector as helping boost iOS numbers, and claims that users of iOS devices are much more "engaged with their mobile devices" as Internet devices rather than primarily phone or game devices.
Munster picked 10 seemingly-random sites from among the 100 most-visited sites for mobile users, including Tumblr, Answers.com, White Pages, Hubpages, Squidoo, LinkedIn, ChaCha, Examiner, Bleacher Report and Dictionary.com. The sites chosen are a curious mix, with notably prominent mobile-visited sites such as Facebook and Yelp not included in the analysis. The mobile share of iOS actually rose in February and March, and grew to 66.4 percent, mostly at the expense of Android -- which declined from 29.7 percent in February to 28.7 percent in March.
Breaking down the dominant iOS share, Munster's analysis saw the iPhone holding the majority at 60 percent, while the iPad accounted for 39.7 percent (presumably the remaining 0.3 percent was from the Wi-Fi only, gaming-oriented iPod Touch). The iPhone makes up 84 percent of AT&T's smartphone sales and 60 percent of Verizon's sales. Sprint and now T-Mobile, as relatively new entrants to the iOS ecosystem, still have higher Android sales -- but this is expected to change as the iPhone becomes more established on the third- and fourth-largest US providers.
Consequently, Munster sees Apple as continuing to hold a strong position in mobile traffic share in 2013 and beyond. Piper Jaffray is maintaining an "overweight" rating on AAPL, with a 2013 target price of $767 (in part based on Munster's long-held belief that Apple will release a branded HDTV set and other new or updated products this year).