What Android outpacing iPhone traffic teaches us

April 27, 2010 | by Andrew Kameka

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What Android outpacing iPhone traffic teaches us

The latest AdMob statistics reveal that Android has finally passed iPhone in web traffic served through AdMob’s network. It’s not an actual indicator that Android has outgrown iPhone (Apple’s sales data shows that’s definitely not the case), but this is an encouraging sign that Android has seen significant growth.

Now what? What trends can we take from this data to figure out what has worked to increase Android adoption and what, if anything, can be done to push that pace even further? The most telling indicator in this data is that the Motorola Droid is largely responsible for Android skyrocketing to the top. It takes the collective strength of every Android device on the market to rival iPhone, but the Droid accounts for 32 percent of traffic.  Knowing that the Droid is the leading Android phone, we can conclude the following:

People need to be sold on Android

T-Mobile did what it could with the G1 and myTouch, but the buzz around the Sprint Hero died quickly, the Motorola Devour disappeared once Megan Fox got out of the bath, and most people wouldn’t even know the Behold II existed had Samsung not decided to start advertising it – months after it was released. Not to mention the lack of advertising by European carriers.

The Droid was the polar opposite of that trend. It was, and continues to be, one of the most advertised products on the market. It’s regularly in print and television ads, promoting itself as the most powerful phone capable of handling anything you throw at it. As the next generation of phones launch in the shadow of iPhone 4, new Android products will have to put forth strong campaigns. You can’t expect anyone to put up $100 million campaigns like Verizon did, but companies have to do better than what they currently offer.

People want it now (software updates, better hardware)

Take a look at this chart.


That line of green kamikazing towards zero represents the T-Mobile G1, which has declined since Sept 2009. That’s because people are growing tired of seeing apps their phone can’t handle and Android features their phone probably won’t get. Not to mention that genuine gadget lust has caused plenty of early adopters to upgrade to the Droid or Nexus One.

This shows that companies need to get serious about how fast they are able to get better devices and updates to their customers. If you release a product that has the same specs as something that came out 2 years ago, what’s the incentive to buy it? And when can those early adopters get your latest product? I won’t rehash the many instances of customers frustrated by companies promising updates and not delivering. Suffice it to say that they need to get their act together and get the products out in a reasonable timeframe. Otherwise, you can expect people to ditch you for someone who can.

P.S. While we’re on the subject, take it easy on HTC and Motorola. Don’t forget that iPhone users get one update per year, and it sometimes costs them money or is just a collection of features we’ve had since 2008.

People want apps

There’s only so much manufacturers can or are willing to put in their phones. Third-party developers are the reason Android has gotten so good. My co-workers were impressed when I showed them Shazam and Locale, but I was forced to be silent when someone could walk in with an iPhone and show off one of the 100,000-plus games and apps. It’s easier to highlight Android’s virtues when a phone goes from having thousands in a year to producing thousands in a month.

AdMob data leads me to believe that there’s a cyclical relationship between Android devices and apps. The sales figures of the Droid and the ADC have inspired more developers to dedicate their resources to Android, leading to more apps. This has thus led to more consumers willing to give Android another look. The popularity of the Droid shows us that a shiny tent gets people to the circus, but you’ve still got to put on a show to keep folks in their seats.

Other Ad Mob highlights (Click to read full report)

  • Motorola and HTC still on top – Motorola leads with 43 percent (Droid, CLIQ) while the HTC Hero, Dream, and Magic collectively account for 41% of Android traffic.
  • Samsung struggling – The Samsung Moment and Behold II account for only 6% and 2% respectively. Samsung and its carrier partners have done little to improve those numbers.
  • Nexus One is best phone but small potatotes – The Nexus One only accounts for 2% of web data. That may increase now that it’s available on AT&T, but the cancellation of Verizon means you won’t see those numbers get on par with lesser phones.
  • People love their physical keyboards – 59% of traffic came from devices with keyboards (Droid, Dream, Moment, Cliq)
  • Cupcake is leading OS version – Whammy!