According to a new report from web development platform provider Netbiscuits, smartphones are clearly the most popular means of mobile web access across the globe.
According to the Mobile Web Metrics Report, smartphones are the dominant means of surfing the mobile web in every major global region except sub-Saharan Africa, where feature phones lead the pack. Smartphones represent the highest percentage of mobile web traffic in Western Europe, while tablets are the second-most-popular in developed Asia-Pacific but ranked third behind feature phones in most other regions.
Tablets hold the largest share in developing Asia-Pacific, although feature phones are still a more popular means of mobile web access there. Other mobile web devices -- such as e-readers and media players -- do not command a significant mobile web traffic share in any region.
Looking at specific mobile device models, Apple iPhone 3G, 3GS, 4 and 4S carried the largest share of mobile web traffic on the Netbiscuits platform during October 2012 (31%). A majority of these devices (62%) ran iOS6. The new iPhone 5 captured seventh place. Android-based Samsung devices took second, third and fourth place while rumors of Blackberry’s death appear premature as Blackberry devices held five spots on the top 25, including Blackberry 8520 at number five.
Apple iPhone 3G, 3GS, 4, 4S ranked first in all markets evaluated. Apple iPhone 5 had its highest ranking in the US (fourth place).
Android Edges Out Apple iOS
Despite the widespread popularity of various iPhone models, Netbiscuits data shows that Android devices account for 43 percent of smartphone web traffic, closely followed by iOS with a 38 percent global share. RIM (maker of Blackberry) holds 10 percent of global mobile web traffic share while Symbian holds about 5 percent.
In the US, Android holds about 50 percent of mobile web traffic compared to iOS with a 46 percent share. Android is the leading smartphone web traffic platform in every region except sub-Saharan Africa (the only region where Symbian dominates) and Asia-Pacific (developed) where iOS holds a small lead.
Looking Ahead to a Fragmented, Mobile-centric Web Market
By 2014, Netbiscuits expects mobile web users to outnumber desktop web users on a global scale, requiring online content providers and marketers to alter their approach to engaging consumers. In particular, Netbiscuits advises enterprises to account for the fragmentation of the global mobile device market, with numerous different devices and operating systems capturing significant shares of mobile web traffic.
Netbiscuits recommends that enterprises utilize an adaptive web platform to ensure a consistently high-quality mobile web experience across all device types and operating systems. This type of solution allows a site to be developed once and automatically adapted, as opposed to responsive design, which does not automatically adapt to all devices or eliminate the need for programming in a native app language.
This advice is worth considering, but also taken with the understanding that Netbiscuits provides adapative web platform solutions and thus is likely biased in this recommendation. The fragmentation and growth of the mobile web market are real phenomena, but no one response will suit the needs of all enterprises.