Android beats iPhone OS in mobile traffic numbers

There's some good news for Android fans this week. According to an AdMob report, 46% of the US mobile ad traffic flowing through the AdMob network during March 2010 came from Android devices, while iPhone traffic accounted for 39%. Looking at worldwide numbers it was iPhone OS that claimed 46%, with Android coming in second at 25%. So who or what is AdMob and how reliable are their numbers? From the report (PDF):

AdMob serves ads for more than 18,000 mobile Web sites and applications around the world. AdMob stores and analyzes the data from every ad request, impression, and click and uses this to optimize ad matching in its network. This monthly report offers a snapshot of its data to provide insight into trends in the mobile ecosystem.

(For more details on where their numbers come from and what they mean, see Placing AdMob Metrics in Context.)

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Breaking the Android numbers down further, the majority of the traffic (32%) came from the Motorola Droid followed by the HTC Hero, Dream and Magic (with 19%, 11% & 11%, respectively). The Nexus One accounted for only 2% of the traffic. In terms of Android version, Android 1.5 claimed 38% of the traffic, Android 2.0/2.1 35% (primarily the Droid) and Android 1.6 26%. That's a lot of people still on older versions of Android. Andrew Kameka over at Androinica has an excellent post up on what all these numbers tell us. It's well worth a read, but basically it boils down to the fact that Google can't sit back and let Android sell itself. It was Verizon's heavy marketing of the Droid that gave Android this push. Comparing numbers of the Droid and the Nexus One are particularly enlightening, and it'll be interesting to see what the numbers look like later in the year, once the HTC Incredible (which is in some ways similar to the Nexus One, only on Verizon Wireless) has been on the market for a while. So why should Android users care? Because for Android to flourish, there is a need to get app developers from other platforms (primarily Apple) to come over to Android, and obviously a larger audience makes switching (or adding Android as a second platform) more lucrative. The numbers also illustrate the problem of a fractured audience, though. App developers want to target the latest and greatest, and that means Android 2.1. As more people upgrade from their 1.5 & 1.6 devices (or better yet, as manufacturers update the OS on existing hardware) the platform will look even more appealing. That should happen over time. In the meantime, the more Apple alienates its developers with bizzare license agreements the more they encourage developers to look for a new platform. (Google's Andy Rubin spoke to the New York Times yesterday and had a great quote about Flash on Android: Sometimes being open “means not being militant about the things consumers are actually enjoying,” he said. Rubin didn't specifically mention Apple, but it's pretty clear he was referring to Steve Jobs steadfast refusal to allow Flash on iPhone OS.) And then there are all those nice looking Android tablets headed our way. If one or more of those are a hit, there'll be an even bigger audience hungry for fun and interesting Android apps. It's the mobile OS circle of life. Greater numbers of users pull in more developers who create interesting apps which attract even more users, and the ecosystem grows. Bigger traffic numbers is good news for everyone involved in Android, even the end user.

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