There has been quite a bit of discussion over the market share of mobile devices today (arguably, for the past few years). It all started with a link on TechCrunch, claiming that Android overtook the iPhone in terms of US traffic (according to AdMob). This being a clear case of selection bias, I set about to figure out the mobile devices used by the visitors of some of my sites during the past month.
As these figures will obviously depend on the type of audience that a site attracts, I put the following three sites on the table as samples (the first two are mine, the last one is my wife’s). All three sites have a predominantly North American audience, but they aren’t lacking for international readers either. This is not meant to be a scientific survey, just a quick way to gather some empirical data and satisfy my (and perhaps your) curiosity. It’s also important to understand that the “market share” here is not actually the market share of all mobile devices sold, but rather limited to those normally used for web browsing.
Let’s start with the data for this site which obviously has a very technical audience:
Next are the results for Math Blog, with has a geeky, but less technical audience.
Finally, my wife’s blog which is devoted to all things vintage. Her audience is generally non-technical and prominently comprised of female visitors.
A few thoughts on this data:
No matter how we look at it, the iPhone is still much more popular than Android, particularly among technical people. If we consider all the devices running iPhone OS, the outlook is even less encouraging for Android OS.
These numbers suggest that Android probably has a 10 to 20% “web usage share” amongst mobile devices.
In one month, the iPad managed to grab a 5 to 10% slice of the mobile pie. Assuming we are OK with grouping it together with smart phones and PDAs, I suspect its share will become much larger in the coming months.
Android offers you a great degree of freedom, compared to the iPhone OS due to Apple’s draconian policies. But the market share for Android still seems to be somewhat small (at least according to the, admittedly limited, figures above). This may change in the future, if and when the number of popular devices that run Android continues to grow (which would include alternatives to the iPad).
With Android still having a long way to go before it catches up with the iPhone OS, which of the two would you develop for, assuming you could only pick one?
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Antonio Cangiano is a Software Developer and Technical Evangelist at IBM. He authored 'Ruby on Rails for Microsoft Developers' by Wrox (2009) and 'Technical Blogging' by The Pragmatic Bookshelf (2012). He is also the Marketing Lead for Cognitive Class, an IBM educational initiative which he helped grow from zero to 1 Million students. You can follow him on Twitter.