iPhone Web Usage Continues to Rise — Even On T-Mobile's Network

Image Credit: AdMob
Image Credit: AdMob

AdMob shares its monthly smartphone data today, and the numbers provide some deeper insight into trends we’ve seen recently. I was sure that the Android Marketplace’s relatively slow pace would weigh down the growth rate of T-Mobile’s G1, but as they say: the numbers don’t lie. Even more surprising is how well Apple’s iPhone is doing on T-Mobile’s network when the carrier doesn’t even offer it for sale. Bear in mind that the data is limited to smartphone requests made to web sites and apps that serve AdMob advertising, so the information is only a proxy representation of the market. However, the company served up an impressive 7.6 billion ad impressions in March, which is certainly not a small number. 

Three things from the PDF report jumped out at me:

  • Android has gained one percentage point of market share in the U.S. each month this year so far, creeping from 4 percent in January to 5 percent in February and 6 percent in March. With just one handset on a single carrier, this is the most surprising news in the report to me. When the T-Mobile G1 first arrived, I felt strongly that if developers didn’t quickly offer a wide array of software, the Android handset wouldn’t be so much as a blip on the radar. While mobile App Stores are all the rage, Google’s (s GOOG) mobile operating system seems to be progressing just fine with a relatively limited marketplace.
  • Apple (s AAPL) and Research In Motion (s RIMM) continue to gain global marketshare at the expense of Nokia’s (s NOK) Symbian OS and Microsoft’s (s MSFT) Windows Mobile platforms. Apple and RIM smartphone web requests accounted for 37 percent and 11 percent of traffic respectively in March; both jumped from January’s numbers of 32 percent and 9 percent. How did Symbian OS and Windows mobile fare over the same time period? In March, they earned 38 percent and 6 percent of the smartphone web requests; that’s down from 44 percent and 8 percent in January.
    While hardware and marketing come into play here, there’s one huge difference between the gainers and the losers here: Apple and RIM often update their mobile software far faster than Nokia and Microsoft. They fix issues and add new features at a relatively rapid pace. It obviously helps when you have fewer hardware models to support, but perhaps there’s a lesson to learned in that as well.
  • Requests from Apple smartphones account for about 3 percent of TMobile USA’s overall requests, even though the carrier don’t offer the iPhone, which doesn’t even work on its 3G frequency bands. The jailbreaking and unlocking of Apple handsets still has a healthy following, even with Wi-Fi and slower EDGE-only speeds. Om claims that AT&T is addicted to the iPhone, and I tend to agree. Clearly, however, these numbers show that there are more folks than just AT&T customers addicted to Apple’s handset in the U.S. One has to wonder about a hypothetical: what if AT&T were to lose or not renew its iPhone exclusivity in the U.S.? What would the overall smartphone numbers look like then?

There’s plenty of additional information in the AdMob report that I didn’t touch upon, but if you’re interested or want to see data from other regions, you can grab the PDF report directly.