updated 11:22 pm EDT, Mon July 7, 2014
Android use growing slowly while iOS declines slowly, 'other' use plummets
Yet another real-world usage study of US smartphone users has confirmed the continuing discrepancy between shipment claims and genuine user interaction when it comes to smartphone platforms. A new study by Quantcast report that 60 percent of all web traffic from mobile devices in the US come from iOS devices, with just 30 percent from Android -- though the latter number if finally beginning to rise slowly. The Android gain is matched almost precisely by a drop among "other" devices, such as Windows Phone and BlackBerry.
Apple's share of the mobile browsing market shows a decline from the year-ago quarter, when usage reached a high of 64.4 percent and is now at 60.3 percent, a drop of 4.1 percent, reports AppleInsider. The results overall are roughly flat year-over-year, with a 60-30 split between the two platforms. The study confirmed a recent Chitika study that covered all of North America rather than just the US, but also found that iOS was more actively used than Android by end-users.
Quantcast sampled roughly a billion mobile page views, according to analyst Gene Munster from Piper Jaffray, who reported the results in a memo to investors. Munster had a few hypotheses to explain the results, such as that iOS users are "more engaged" with their phones, but overlooks the simpler possibility that Android "sales" are overreported by being conflated with shipments -- since Android manufacturers don't report end-user sales as Apple does.
Another factor that could be influencing the results is that there are distinct classes of "Android" phones, though statistics firms like ComScore and others tend to lump them all together. Many phones running Android as the OS are still very limited devices, such as 7-11 Speakout phones, which emphasize talk and text and don't feature much, if any, data capability.
Others do have data capability, but are specifically marketed to consumers who don't want data plans, or need only a minimal amount, both of which preclude much web surfing. This could account for millions of "Android" users who don't use "smartphones" in the sense of the term that covers routine data or Wi-Fi use for routine Internet interactions.
Premium smartphone users like those who choose the iPhone or Samsung's Galaxy S5 (as examples) tend to be customers that can afford, and leverage, cellular data plans along with Wi-Fi to use their smartphones' features more extensively. Android's slow growth over the last year would indicate that flagship smartphones such as Samsung's Galaxy S5 have failed to grow the pool of Android users compared to budget devices.
Munster also noted in his explanations that the iPad is so dominant among tablet users that its extensive web capabilities could be weighing the results in Apple's favor. The two platforms are also both benefitting from the decrease in web use by phones running anything other than iOS or Android. As reported recently, while Windows Phone was able to hold steady at 3.4 percent of US smartphone subscribers, both BlackBerry and Symbian continued to drop users at a precipitous rate in recent months.