iPhone Picking Up Steam Overseas

Smartphones accounted for 48 percent of traffic on AdMob’s ad network in November 2009, the mobile ad startup said Friday, up from 30 percent just a year ago. And much of that growth is due to the iPhone’s exploding popularity in foreign markets: Half of the unique ad requests from Apple’s (s aapl) iPhone and iPod touch came from outside the U.S., up from 39 percent in January 2009.

AdMob, which is in the process of being acquired by Google for a hefty $750 million, serves display and text ads on 15,000 mobile web sites and apps. The San Mateo, Calif.-based startup said that while the U.S. remains by far the biggest market for Apple’s mobile gadgets, the company is making substantial headway overseas. Japan, France and Australia were the fastest-growing markets for Apple devices in 2009, according to AdMob’s data, and a total of 23 countries generated ad requests from more than 100,000 unique iPhone and iPod touch users.

Meanwhile, AdMob’s data indicates traffic from Google’s (s goog) Android platform has surged in the U.S. as new devices have come to market. The Droid generated 27 percent of U.S. smartphone requests in November, up from 20 percent in the year-ago period October, and 22 percent of Android requests worldwide, despite the fact that the gadget didn’t even come to market until Nov. 5. Apple’s traction should continue to increase as the company gains a foothold in China and other emerging markets (the iPhone already has huge market share in Japan), while Android is likely to build on its momentum as new handsets come to market from AT&T (s t) and other carriers around the world.