Research by Google confirms the obvious: when consumers need to research products, prices, availability etc, it’s easier to use the mobile Web.
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Patrick, thanks for the thought-provoking feedback.
We've tried to give the big, global picture here, using the credible data from reliable sources. From a usage perspective, the headline figure here is unique mobile Internet users. This is estimated at around 500 million globally (though this figure seems low if China has 233 million as quoted by the national statistics).
I suspect you are talking about how mobile Internet use is divided between users of different handsets, we couldn't find any substantive research on this. If you know of any, please let us know. To measure this objectively you'd need the cooperation of all the operators (this doesn't happen, but it will, eventually). Many of the figures for handset data you see in the media are drawn from mobile ad network's reports, these are based on page impressions, not unique users and are subjective and reflect the nature of each network's business (and to some extent agendas) - hence the contradictory findings.
I'm struggling to understand the figures you quote – can you or the publishers explain more, please? I surmise that the 70 percent must be page impressions, rather than unique users. Are your clients able to distinguish unique users? If they can't then they might be seeing the same small proportion of users doing a lot of browsing. I suspect most Apple and Android users are on flat-rate-data plans, where as most US mobile subscribers aren't – is that correct? (What will your usage figures look like when the US has pervasive flat-rate-data plans as Japan has had for years?). I'm assuming that every visitor is important to your clients, not just the ones that do a lot of browsing?
I plan to look more closely at individual markets, it's possible that mobile Internet usage nationally in the US is much lower than I thought and Apple's business is much more concentrated. Or perhaps something (e.g. do they have download apps that might distort the figures?) makes your clients unrepresentative of the rest of the US.
But from the global perspective Apple shipped 39 million units (that's the highest estimate) in 2008 and 2009 (sorry to return to sales data, but it is important) assuming they all use the mobile Internet that's still only 7.8 percent of the 500 million (that's probably conservative) global mobile Web users. (Android sold 7.4 million in 2008/9). What proportion will Apple have when this is 1 billion global mobile Web users in a few years time?
There's nothing wrong with your clients focusing on Apple or Android if they bring in the most traffic (that's not our point) as long as this isn't at the expense of all their other customers that do not use those particular cell phones.
Unfortunately some companies (in the West only, mobile is a lot more inclusive in Japan for example) will focus budgets on native applications for a single platform, instead of investing in mobile Web and SMS to service all customers whatever their handset. It is a mystery to me why this occurs in mobile, but not in any other medium… how many brands run TV ads that only worked on one type of television (even if it was believed that the people that owned that brand watch more TV)?
Please get in touch and introduce me to these publishers, I'm fascinated to know how these figures you quote have come about. Email Andy on: editor (at) mobiThinking.com
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