Conventional wisdom is that iPhone users are a gadget-loving, tech-savvy and well-off bunch. In fact, results from a quantitative study of US 2G iPhone US users conducted by Rubicon in March 2008 revealed that the former have a median annual household income of $67,000 which is roughly 40% greater than the US median. So when comScore reported that the fastest growth in 3G iPhone sales in the US over the summer months came from households that earn less than the median income, it got my attention. As the attached table shows, ownership of the 3G iPhone rose 48% from June 1 to the end of August among households earning between $25,000 and $50,000 a year, compared to 21% overall. Mobile-browser use grew 4.9% among lower-income consumers, versus 2.7% overall, and their mobile music-listening rose 4.7%, compared to an overall decline of 0.3%. In fact, the income segment that shows the next highest growth (46%) in ownership is the $50,000 to $75,000 income category – a segment that is not too far off from the median income.
What gives? Continue reading
Back in September, I reported that according to Admob, a mobile advertising marketplace, iPhone seemed to trail Symbian, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry and Palm handsets in both worldwide and US share of smartphone traffic. This was in direct contrast to other web browsing marketshare statistics where iPhone seemingly comes out on top. I also received hate-mail from iPhone-junkies. But looks like there is an explanation. Jason Spero, VP of Marketing at AdMob proffers an explanation:
With regards to the iPhone question: we serve ads on our partner’s mobile sites, so when the users surf the “regular” web on the iPhone that traffic isn’t included in the Metrics report. Much of the tremendous growth we are seeing in iPhone requests are coming from the creation of iPhone specific mobile sites. This traffic is included in the report and these sites represent a growing part of AdMob’s business. As content owners look to improve the mobile experience, we believe more and more mobile specific sites will be created and the mobile web will continue its strong growth in the face of more handsets having the ability to surf the “regular” web.
One additional point of clarification – the report doesn’t state that a Motorola RAZR user is more likely to surf the mobile web that an iPhone user, it simply states that our publisher sites see more traffic from RAZRs than iPhones. The mobile web existed and was seeing explosive growth well before the iPhone hit the scene –many millions of these devices are still in heavy use today.
The short answer is that regular web-surfing (which is what most iPhone users do, I reckon) is not included in AdMob’s report. The AdMob-reported iPhone numbers refer to ads served out by AdMob when users visit iPhone specific mobile sites.
According to AdMob’s September report, iPhone is giving the other platforms a run for their money even here! iPhone is now ranked 4th globally in terms of the total number of ad requests served by AdMob -ahead of Nokia N95/N80/N73, BlackBerry 8100/8300 and Pal Centro. Only Motorola’s RAZR/KRZR and Nokia N70 is ahead and not by much.
I have written about the explosive mobile broadband growth in Austria – Sweden is yet another country where mobile broadband growth is rivaling fixed broadband options. This is not very surprising given how competitive mobile broadband is being priced in Sweden compared to that of fixed broadband. Sweden’s National Post and Telecom Agency (PTS) publishes an annual report on the state of the Swedish Telecommunications Market. The 2007 report has several interesting data about the state of the mobile broadband in Sweden called “mobile Internet” in the report.
Clearly, 2007 was the year for mobile broadband in Sweden. During 2007 the number of mobile subscriptions via data plug-in cards or USB modems increased from 92,000 to 376,000 representing a growth rate of around 309%. Apparently, this frenetic pace of growth has shown no signs of slowing down in 2008 as well. USB modems for mobile Internet have for instance been at the top of the sales figures in both Telia Sonera and (3)’s shops during the first months of 2008. This rapid growth in mobile broadband subscriptions has been exceeded by a even more faster rate of growth in mobile data traffic as the accompanying figure illustrates – total mobile data traffic increased by over 1000% during 2007 (from 203 Tbytes to 2,191 Tbytes). This follows a similar pattern in all the countries where mobile broadband is showing explosive growth – traffic increases at a rate significantly greater than the revenue from mobile broadband subscribers, given that the latter pay a flat fixed fee for their subscription. As a matter of fact, total revenues from mobile data traffic in Sweden increased by 60% – compare that to 1000% growth in mobile data traffic!
Telia Sonera with 39% of mobile broadband subscriptions is the market leader. The next largest is Tele2 (25%) followed by 3 (19%) and Telenor (15%). The smallest is Nordisk Mobiltelefon (who is actually a CDMA operator operating in the 450Mhz band) with less than 3% of the market.
What’s the outlook for mobile broadband now?
At the end of 2007, roughly 78% of Swedish households had some kind of Internet access with 62% of the households having broadband connectivity. We can fully expect that the 16% of the households with dial-up access will choose some flavor of broadband in the near future. Mobile broadband is perfectly placed to win over this customer segment – in addition to the 22% of households without any Internet access. In fact, mobile broadband jumped to 12% of all broadband subscriptions in 2007 from a 4% base in 2006. In addition to an extremely competitive price – flat-rate mobile broadband connections with speeds of up to 7.2Mbps are available for SEK199 (US$30.80)) a month, comparable to the price of a 500Kbps fixed-broadband subscription, around 1 million of Sweden’s 4.5 million households are outside the reach of ADSL. Many Swedes are also opting for a mobile broadband connection when they migrate to holiday homes in the countryside during the summer. With no fixed broadband offerings to protect, it is a reasonable bet that (3) will go after this segment aggressively similar to its approach in the other countries in which it operates.
AdMob, a mobile advertising marketplace releases what they call a Mobile Metrics Report every month. Since they serve ads for more than 5,000 mobile web sites around the world, they claim they are capable of storing and analyzing the data from every ad request, impression, and click. For every ad request, AdMob determines device capabilities using information available in the user’s mobile browser. They claim that over 5 million ad requests and impressions flow through their network every month. The reports reveal some interesting data regarding worldwide share of smartphone traffic. Contrary to popular opinion (and even here in this blog), the iPhone is nowhere close to holding the top spot in this list. Nokia’s Symbian OS takes that honor on a worldwide basis, while out here in the States, RIM’s BlackBerry browser takes the top spot. In fact, as the accompanying charts show, while Symbian’s (driven primarily by Nokia’s N-Series handsets) market share has been steadily growing from 44% to 64% on a worldwide basis in the past six months, iPhone’s share has been hovering around in the 4%-6% category. Not a bad number for a platform that has been in existence for hardly over a year, but a far cry from the market share numbers reported by Net Applications. In fact, even if you assume that Net Applications measure browsing statistics only in the United States, their numbers are not consistent with what is shown here – RIM, Windows Mobile and Palm handsets all have a higher share of Internet traffic to that of the iPhone.
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!