Will fast growing smartphone penetration make it easier to integrate and implement services and applications across all relevant mobile and connected devices? Good question. It’s one that Netbiscuits set out to answer in their Mobile Web Metrics Report.  

In Search of Dominance: Smartphone Device & OS

In this recent report, Netbiscuits took a closer look at the fragmentation among and within smartphones and their operating systems. Based upon metrics generated from more than 8.5 billion mobile page and content item requests that Netbiscuits’ mobile cloud software platform currently processes on a monthly average, the report was able to determine the types of devices that generate specific types of traffic on the Netbiscuits platform.

By identifying and separating six main categories of devices from each other: smartphones, feature phones, media players, media tablets and consumer electronics, it was clear that smartphones are the most used mobile web access channel in all developed regions.


When it comes to operating systems, many shared popularity and accessibility, dominating specific areas. Notably, Google Android has become the leading smartphone OS in North America, while Apple iOS is still the leading smartphone operating system on a global scale, dominating Western Europe, South & Central America and Middle East & Northern Africa. However, among Asia Pacific, Nokia Symbian and RIM BBOs are strongly represented.

While there may be one dominant smartphone, the results show that there is not a single dominating smartphone OS.

Horizontal and Vertical Smartphone Fragmentation

The report also examined both horizontal and vertical smartphone fragmentation. Horizontal fragmentation exists among smartphones with different operating systems, while vertical fragmentation is driven by various OS versions in the market at the same point in time and various hardware and form factors of devices running the same OS.

For HSF, Netbiscuits developed an index by looking at the number of smartphone OS’ that brands have to take into account to provide an optimized mobile experience for more than 80 percent of all consumers using smartphones. In other words, companies need to attain an HSF index of 3 with iOS (40%), Android (35%) and Symbian (11%) representing the smartphone operating systems that need to be focused upon to remain relevant for the majority of global smartphone users.


VSF, on the other hand is much harder to master, as even if all iPhones or Android devices were running on the latest version of their respective operating system, differences in hardware would still hinder the implementation of a single user experience among all devices. Devices must account for great disparities and variations among HD displays, RAM, as well as screen width and height.

HTML5 Support With Mobile

Finally, the report measured the HTML5 capabilities of mobile devices. Specifically, Netbiscuits wanted to know if for seven markets (USA, the UK, Germany, Australia, France, Spain and Singapore) the churn in mobile hardware and software over the last six months had a positive influence on the HTML5 capabilities of those devices used mostly for accessing the web.

The report examines each market thoroughly, but here are some highlights:

In the US, four new devices have entered the top 10 list since November 2010, with four HTML5 features being supported by a definitive majority of the top 10 devices. These features include:

  • Offline Web Application Support
  • Geolocation API
  • 2D Animation Rendering
  • Web storage

In the UK, three new devices entered the top 10 list, however not a single HTML5 feature is supported by a majority of these top 10 devices.

In Germany, three new devices have also entered the top 10 since November 2010 and the market continues to support the four most common HTML5 features. 

Mobile Segmentation Affects the Customer Experience

Overall, there is great diversity that companies must account for when providing mobile support. Netbiscuits succinctly summarizes three figures that should be kept in mind, if your goal is to maximize the mobile opportunity and reach all your potential customers:

  1. Your mobile web program should be tailored for up to 3,000 different devices
  2. The dominating devices generate approximately one third of all mobile site requests
  3. The Long Tail of devices generates approximately two thirds of all mobile site requests

Mobile segmentation isn’t just an issue for mobile manufacturers, but for marketers who need to reach 100 percent of a given customer base. Optimizing their mobile web program for thousands of different connected and mobile devices becomes an essential element of any mobile web strategy. The more you understand about how mobile is represented globally, the better prepared you will be to integrate appropriate mobile services and applications.