Wednesday, 19 March 2008 04:10

iPhone web use booming

A pair of reports put Apple's iPhone at the top of mobile web use in the US.

M:Metrics' latest survey of over 31,000 US mobile phone users found the iPhone is the most popular device for accessing news and information on the mobile Web.

Almost 85 percent of iPhone users accessed any news or information site via the browser, compared with 58 percent of all smartphone owners. Web search was also reasonably close at 59 vs 37 percent.

As for the rest of the categories examined - mobile TV or video, on-demand TV or video, social networking or blogs, and listening to music - iPhone users were between two and three times more likely to use these capabilities than smartphone users generally.

"This data indicates that the iPhone's widgets are an effective means to drive mobile content consumption," said senior analyst Mark Donovan. "Two featured widgets, YouTube and Google Maps are extremely popular among iPhone users: 30.4 percent accessed YouTube and 36 percent used Google Maps."

One thing that has me puzzled is the reference to "mobile TV and/or video" as opposed to "on-demand video or TV programming". I don't own an iPhone and I don't live in one of the few countries where it is on sale, but as far as I know the device has no facility for mobile TV comparable with that of many 3G handsets. The only interpretation I can come up with is that respondents didn't distinguish between watching videos (including those recorded off-air) that they'd transferred to the iPhone from watching live TV. I'm reminded of a survey that found a large proportion of respondents interpreted the term 'home automation' to include remote garage door openers and lights that turn on when they sense movement.


The other report comes from Ireland-based StatCounter, a company that collects visitor statistics for website operators.

StatCounter found iPhone use has a big lead over Nokia in the US, taking 0.18 percent of the total browser share compared with the latter's 0.01 percent. Internationally, the situation is reversed with shares of 0.08 percent and 0.25 percent.

If you include the iPod touch, mobile Safari's share of the US browser market increases to 0.23 percent.

StatCounter's analysis was based on 372 million page views between Decemvber 2007 and March 2008.

The thing about browser share figures is that they combine the number of users with the frequency of use. Globally, the iPhone represents a tiny fraction of the installed base of web-capable mobile phones, but owners are more likely to use the Internet because the majority of iPhones are sold with unlimited data plans.

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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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