The use of Google Android devices to access the web continues to rise in the U.S., at the expense of Apple’s iOS, BlackBerry and other handset platforms. Quantcast, a San-Francisco-based web measurement company, today offered this data, indicating that Android has a 25 percent share of mobile usage, up from around 10 percent last November. Apple’s iOS platform, which powers the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, currently stands at 56 percent, down from a peak of nearly 70 percent at the end of 2009.
Normally with this type of data, I’d look into further comparison between Apple, Google and everyone else in the mobile space. But something else stood out when viewing the Quantcast data — Google comes out a winner both today and in the foreseeable future due to mobile search. The main source of Google revenue is indeed search, but the real growth is in searching for data away from the desktop. Google knows this, so it continues to invest heavily in its Android platform. This is also a main reason why it makes the platform attractive to handset makers by giving it away. As Android device sales continue to grow on a faster pace than competing products, more mobile devices that primarily use Google services are in the wild — each one of them a potential money maker for Google through search and ad revenue.
Here’s the funny thing though — Google has been winning such revenues in the mobile space even before Android. All of those iOS devices that Apple has sold, more than 120 million Steve Jobs said this week, come with Google as the default search engine. Might some consumers change their default search? Of course, but I doubt a statistically significant number actually do. It’s only when a carrier or competing search brand enters the picture, just as Verizon did last year when it changed over to Bing on BlackBerry devices.
Essentially, Google has benefitted from mobile search since the iPhone launched in 2007 with Google as the default search engine. But now the search giant is outselling other mobile platforms, and even if Apple removed Google as an available search partner at this point, it would be a temporary setback for Google’s mobile search revenues. Google has had the mobile search market cornered from the beginning, and with Android’s usage growth, it stands to keep that market for some time to come. Well, at least until we see how Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Phone 7 platform does — surely it will use Bing as the default, no?
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