Several surveys have revealed that iPhone users spend a lot of time surfing the Internet. Late last year, when Net Applications came out with its quarterly browser market share report, people immediately latched on to the fact that the iPhone, which at that time was in the market for a full 5 months, had a browser market share that was 33% greater than that of Windows Mobile devices. This was obviously an amazing statistic at that point in time – in under two quarters, Apple’s handheld platform had passed Microsoft’s over a decade-old mobile platform in terms of browser use. The amazement was further amplified when you consider that iPhone was selling in only one geography (AT&T) while over 20 million Windows Mobile platforms were in circulation. It’s not just just Windows Mobile that was getting killed by iPhone. S60/Symbian – the browser in Nokia’s N-Series platforms among others? About 1/10th.
Fast forward – I decided to go back and look at the Net Applications browser statistics to find out if iPhone users continued their incessant web-surfing behavior. I charted the browsing market share of both iPhone and Windows Mobile over six quarters. Clearly, iPhone is continuing its dizzying ascent, widening its lead significantly over Windows Mobile – the market share today stands at four times that of Windows Mobile. iPod has a 0.04% market share and is catching up with Windows Mobile as well.
At this rate, given iPhone 3G’s worldwide distribution, it is quite conceivable that iPhone/iPod will be the fourth largest computing platform in terms of browsing market share (behind only Windows XP, Windows Vista, MacIntel and Mac OS) by end of this year. It would have surpassed the browsing market share of Linux, Windows 2000 and Windows NT platforms. For a platform that has been in existence for less than two years and that too with limited distribution, that is an amazing feat. Check back to this entry for an update end of the year!
Nielsen Mobile, a service of The Nielsen Company, reported that there were more than 13 million wireless data card users in the US as of Q2 2008. The interesting piece of information buried in the press release is that as many as 59 percent of the mobile data card users were willing to swap their current ISP for their broadband needs, indicating shaky loyalty and low switching costs for ISPs. This is not too surprising given that a USB dongle/modem/stick solution can address their mobile as well as fixed connectivity requirements.
The GSMA, the global trade group for the mobile industry, releases a quarterly report on the growth (or lack of growth) of GSM, GPRS/EDGE, W-CDMA and HSPA subscribers, terminals and operators. In the latest report (August 2008), it announced that the number of worldwide subscribers using Mobile Broadband (HSPA) networks has topped the 50 million mark from 11 million one year ago. This indicates that global uptake of HSPA technology among consumers and businesses is accelerating, indicating continued traffic growth for high-speed mobile networks worldwide. Wireless Intelligence expects the number of HSPA connections to be growing by 4 million per month by the end of 2008. The surprise here is that in its report released earlier, the number of HSPA subscribers were estimated to be around 56 million by end of 2008 (See accompanying figure). A rare occasion when reality has definitely overtaken hype! We should not be surprised if the real number is close to 75 million by end-2008 given current subscriber growth rates.
In October 2007, there were roughly 403 HSPA devices (a mixture of mobile phones, dongles, routers and notebooks) launched by 80 suppliers. That number has almost doubled to 742 HSPA-enabled devices available from 117 manufacturers. Furthermore, in February 2008, there were 174 commercial HSPA operators and that number has grown to 191 in the latest survey. The most widely-deployed peak data speeds over HSPA are currently between 3.6Mbps and 7.2Mbps. This translates to an end user speed of more than 1Mbps, comparable to many of today’s fixed line broadband services.
There is a running counter of Mobile Broadband connections around the world on the GSMA’s dedicated website: hspa.gsmworld.com.