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Is Android share of Web lagging iOS share of Web?

Of all the public statistics about platform share, Share of web use must be the most important measure for Google. The more browsing people do, the more searching they do and if Google search is most likely for a platform then the more income Google derives from that platform.

NetMarketshare.com has offered an insight into the split between Android and iOS as search platforms and it shows how iOS is still five times more likely to yield search revenue than Android. That multiple is likely to shrink as the gap narrows, but it still demonstrates the power of iOS to drive Google’s bottom line. It’s no wonder then why Google has renewed their default placement of Google search in mobile Safari (a guarantee they don’t seem to share with all Android licensees.)

But Android launched later than iPhone, so everyone should be asking how rapidly the share of Web has grown since the start of each platform. When iPhone launched in 2007 it was almost competing with mobile web non-consumption. The alternative mobile browsing experiences were so bad that it’s hard to remember anyone putting up with them. A year later, the bar was set higher and Android filled a vast chasm of demand for mobile browsing for people who could not buy an iPhone.

At the same point in the life of each platform, Android seems to be exploding in units sold. With this proliferation of Android licenses, it should be interesting to see if their unit share numbers are reflected in web share numbers. So far the story is not convincing. The growth in Web share is not pacing faster than iOS achieved at a similar point in time.

So far, 24 months into the life of each platform, iOS leads by almost 50% higher share.

iOS/mobile Safari has the advantage of iPod and iPad for distribution but that does not explain the relative lag of Android with respect to Web share as Android has a large number of SKUs.

It may be too early to draw conclusions, but anyone trying to analyze Google’s strategy with Android should be paying close attention to this.

  • Vikram

    I was wondering the same thing when I saw that NetMarketshare.com graph.

    With iPad becoming more and more popular expect to see that gap accelerate or at least maintain.

    I think that its a testament to the adoption of iOS and the fact that Safari just works a lot better than Android's version of a browser and touch interface. Couple that with the fact that iOS purchasers have more money than Android purchasers and are more likely to pay for mobile data plans and mobile internet usage.

  • Famousringo

    I find myself wondering if in-app traffic shows up in Netmarketshare's analysis. So many apps are just web data packed into a format optimized for that particular platform. When I launch such an app, does that register as a hit? Or is it invisible to their analytics? Probably depends on how the app is implemented.

    These mobile devices are so app-oriented, I wonder if their real web usage is under-represented here.

    • Chris Harris

      It definitely is underrepresented. We make several sports scores apps like ECB Cricket and the Football League. They all make requests over the internet to what is essentially a small text file (JSON) so they are invisible to these kinds of reports.

  • Rob Scott

    The second graph is great because its fair to Android but also because it highlights the failure that is Google's strategy.

    1). Android benefited from the education and awareness that was created/generated by the iPhone, Android should have done a lot better. An example of this is the iPad. The iPad performed better (in all major matrixes) because of the iPhone.

    2). What makes the lag worse is that the are probable over 50 Android devices, (and they cut across categories) being compared to an iPhone and an iPod Touch. I also suspect that Android has more units behind it than iOS and the point in time.

    3). Apple is supposed to not "get the Web", yet Apple's iOS outperforms Android which is from a company that supposedly "gets the Web".

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  • MattF

    It's notable that the iOS line ticks upward in the last six months– evidently due to the iPad. The iPad is really a killer web device– all of Apple's competitors will be facing a stiff headwind from here on out.

  • rd

    iPad has share of .30% already. Android may not be able to catchup to it
    let alone iPhone.

    http://www.netmarketshare.com/operating-system-ma

  • Tom

    So, iOS users work the web more successfully than Android users, and in larger numbers. All things considered, having the "full web" of flash doesn't seem to be all that great or helpful to Android users. Certainly, having a Verizon phone running Android (with or without Google) doesn't seem to be all that great an experience either…

  • Vertti

    Oh, when do we get those iPad's in to Finland?

    I can't wait the 18th day when Apple releases Q4 (Q3) results.
    It is very interesting to see if Apple is finally the biggest computer manufacturer in the world. (Over 4 million Macs and over 9 million iPads) ;)

    • min

      Interesting to hear that they aren't available world-wide, yet. I would have thought that that would happen before they started selling them locally at the neighborhood Target stores. I guess the US market is that more significant?

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  • Sevket Zaimoglu

    Well, it's clear even by looking at the second graph that the "acceleration" in Android's share of web traffic is on par or maybe even higher than that of iOS. You can visualize this by moving the Android (green) bar vertically until it touches the iOS (blue) bar. The slopes of both curves are very close with the balanced tipped slightly in favour of the Android curve. The trend is especially marked from the month 18 onwards.

    By acceleration, I mean the difference between the web traffic share (wbs) of a given month and the month after it, divided by the web traffic share of that month. In mathematical terms:

    a(t)= [wbs(t+1)-wbs(t)]/wbs(t)

    Disregarding a comparison between the lifecycles of each OS, when I make the comparison for the available data from November 2009 onwards, the results for the "acceleration" of web market share for Android are, then, 66,67%, 20,00%, 16,67%, 0,00%, 28,57%, 22,22%, 27,27%, 28,57%, 11,11%, 20,00%. And for iOS: 23,26%, 11,32%, 3,39%, 1,64%, 11,29%, 17,39%, 8,64%, 20,45%, 6,60%, 4,42%. These are monthly changes as a percentage of the respective monthly shares of web traffic for the two mobile O/S'ses, from December 2009 to September 2010.

    The resulting graph looks like this: http://yfrog.com/2pandroidvsiosmonthlyratej

    What this tells me is that Android is increasing its share of web traffic much more rapidly than iOS. Since April 2010, Android's share has nearly tripled, whereas iOS has struggled to double its share.

    • asymco

      By indexing each graph to the origin of their start dates, the chart shows that at a similar point in their life, Android is not increasing its share of browsing as quickly. As Android is younger it may seem to be growing more quickly but you have to compare it to when iPhone was younger too.

  • Sevket Zaimoglu

    "A year later, the bar was set higher and Android filled a vast chasm of demand for mobile browsing for people who could not buy an iPhone."

    A correction is needed for this sentence.

    Android filled a vast chasm of demand for mobile browsing for people who could not, would not, and did not buy an iPhone until then.