iPhone is World's Ninth Most-Popular Smartphone

Here's a quick quiz for you: Which smartphone in the U.S. accesses the mobile Internet the most? If you guessed the iPhone, you're wrong. According to metrics published by the mobile Internet ad-serving company, AdMob, More RIM BlackBerry 8100 smartphones accessed the Internet in the U.S. in August than any other smartphone--although the Palm Centro was right behind the 8100. The Apple iPhone was actually the fourth most-used smartphone in August in the U.S. for mobile Internet access (the RIM Blackberry 8300 took the number three spot).

Based on traffic to the mobile Internet sites that AdMob's serves ads to, AdMob reports that smartphones account for 23.7 percent of U.S. mobile Internet traffic. (AdMob defines a smartphone as a mobile phone that "has an identifiable operating system." In fact, Neilsen Mobile claims that the most popular phone in the U.S. to access the mobile Internet is the Motorola RAZR, which isn't considered a smartphone.) This is only slightly less than the worldwide smartphone share of mobile Internet access of 25.8 percent. It is important to note that AdMob is not claiming that that smartphones make up about a quarter of all Internet traffic. AdMob serves ads to sites that are optimized for access by mobile devices, such as cell phones, so its data focuses primarily on what is commonly referred to as the mobile Internet--a small, but quickly growing subset of the Internet.

 Credit: AdMob

While RIM, Palm, and Apple dominate the top spots in the U.S., Nokia has a veritable stranglehold on the rest of the world. Nokia smartphones occupy 13 the of the top 20 spots for smartphones worldwide, accounting for 62.4 percent of all smartphone mobile Internet traffic. Worldwide, the most popular phone for accessing the mobile Internet is the Nokia N70, making up 11.7 percent of all smartphone traffic.

Don't count the iPhone out, however, as it showed the largest share increase in the month of August for both the U.S. (at 2.6 percent growth) and worldwide (at 1.3 percent growth). And consider this: AdMob reports that as of August, the iPhone is the ninth most-often used smartphone for accessing the mobile Internet, worldwide. That's fairly impressive considering that the iPhone became available in most countries only as recently as this last July. In the U.S., the smartphone that shows the largest growth in it share of accessing the mobile Internet, after the iPhone, is the Samsung Instinct M800 (at 2.1 percent growth).

Credit: AdMob

According to Nielsen, there are 40 million active mobile Internet users in the U.S. (this is all mobile Internet users--not just those using smartphones). Nielsen reports that there are actually 95 million users in the U.S. who subscribe to a mobile Internet service; which means that more than half of the users in the U.S. who pay for the services aren't using them. For those who are using them, what are they doing?

According to Nielsen, the top five types of mobile Internet sites or services accessed in May 2008 were:
  • Portals: 35.7 million
  • E-mail: 26.1 million
  • Weather: 16.8 million
  • News/Politics: 13 million
  • Search: 11.8 million
(Number of unique mobile Internet users; source: Nielsen Mobile)

Nielsen reports that the top five mobile Internet channels in May 2008 were:
  • Yahoo! Mail: 14.2 million
  • Google Search: 9.1 million
  • Weather channel: 8.6 million
  • MSN Hotmail: 7.9 million
  • Gmail: 7.5 million
(Number of unique mobile Internet users; source: Nielsen Mobile)

As these numbers show, the mobile Internet is big business. Apple may not be dominating it (yet) with the iPhone, but it is quickly climbing up the charts, not just in the U.S., but worldwide. The mobile Internet is growing rapidly, but it is also changing as well: Not only has Apple changed the paradigm with its Apps Store, but other mobile providers are now looking to jump onto the "app store" wagon for their phones as well. Apple claimed on September 9 that over 100 million applications had been downloaded from the App Store worldwide since July 11. To use a tired cliché, we're at the tipping point for the mobile Internet. It's a fair bet that soon we'll be measuring a sizable percentage of worldwide Internet access coming from smartphones. Stay tuned...
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