Windows Phone web usage tops BlackBerry in North America but looks stagnant

Joe Belfiore Microsoft Build Conference 2014

When is good news the same as bad news? When a company treads water watching its competitors sink below the surface. That’s exactly the scenario I see from the latest smartphone web usage in North America. Chitika shared the data in a report on Thursday that shows Microsoft’s Windows Phone web usage has overtaken that of BlackBerry handsets.

That may sound obvious, given that BlackBerry handset sales have ground to a halt. Still it’s good to see actual data to confirm. According to Chitika’s measurements, web traffic from BlackBerry devices dropped from 1 percent to 0.8 percent between February and April.

BlackBerry_Windows_Phone_Comparison-ChitikaInsights

While Chitika’s graph shows BlackBerry’s decline, more interesting to me is the lack of growth for Windows Phone usage. It suggests that Microsoft is still having a hard time finding a foothold for its handsets in the U.S. and Canada. Chitika’s report notes that iOS and Android are still doing well, accounting for 53.1 and 44.5 percent of North American smartphone web traffic, respectively.

Granted, this is just one set of data from an advertising network and not actual device sales figures. And we’re only just now hitting the next cycle of handsets that will run the new and much improved Window Phone 8.1 software — sales of Nokia’s Lumia 630 with Windows Phone 8.1 began yesterday in Asia but won’t start in the U.S. for another month or two.

Perhaps when newer Windows Phones hit the North American market in the coming months, we’ll see Microsoft’s share of mobile web use rise. I’m looking forward to revisiting the data at that time to see if the company has made any progress against the two big elephants in the pool: iOS and Android.

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