iPhone Dominates the Mobile Web (as yet)

The iPhone has a meagre 1.2% share of the overall phone market. However, it has true worker bees as users. No, honestly, these guys are sooo much busier than everybody else: they produce a whopping 2/3 of the world's mobile web traffic, or so says a report. Yes, that's right. Number 2? Shared between open-source-newbie Symbian and - remarkably - Android with 6.15% each, which is, erm, less than 10% of what the iPhone accounts for (and in spite there being a gazillion more Symbian-powered phones out there than iPhones). Next one in the queue then is Blackberry with 2.24%.

Interestingly, the researchers find that the runners-up are quickly gaining market share, which begs the question (again) if the iPhone was only a big marketing coup: did people only need the Jobs magic in order to be shown what they could actually do with their phones (and, yes, did operators need Mr Jobs vision to realize that fair use might exceed, like, 137 kb per month)?

The answer? No! 4,000 downloads per minute are more than a marketing fluke! That web traffic is not a mirage! What the iPhone did do is trigger a stampede towards better usability, better discovery, a better environment, more ease. It is no surprise that the Google-dominated Android phone is catching up so fast (in spite being the youngest platform): Google itself has a knack for simplicity and ease of use. And from the platforms that have been around for a little longer, Blackberry (traditionally equipped with flat-rate data plans and affluent users to go with it) and Symbian (highest install-base on smartphones) are best suited from the pack to catch up quickest. The only question is the one for Windows Mobile (ooh, and Mr & Mrs Gates children are not allowed iPhones...).

The most encouraging bit of that report is therefore not another staggering stat on the iPhone but that the others are catching up. A race to the top then (even if some say that, content-wise, it currently is a race to the bottom; I'm sure that that will sort itself out fairly quickly but of this another time...).

"Recession? Where?" Asks the Smartphone...

I previously looked at recession-busting sectors and products, and here's more proof that not all is bad: two reports point out that smartphones continue to outperform the market rather significantly, recording growth figures of 25.9% year-on-year in Europe; the growth for all of 2007 vs 2008 was even more impressive: they grew by 36.1%. In the US, smartphones increased their share of the overall mobile phone market from 12% in Q4/2007 to 25% a year later. Good numbers!

Half of the (US) smartphones now come with touchscreens, with 70% "instead" (?) having a QWERTY keyboard (my best guess is that this includes phones with a slide-out keyboard, such as the T-Mobile G1 or the Sony Ericsson Xperia).

So how come? The iPhone but also other devices like Blackberries, Nokia's higher-end phones (e.g. the N95) have powerfully demonstrated that the use of a mobile for things other than using voice and SMS (and take the occasional snap with a so-so camera) is not the end of all things. The overall feature sets of smartphones but - possibly more importantly still - the overall user experience is generally significantly better on a fairly comprehensive scale, and this - in particular in times of recession - would suggest a much higher value for money ("if I pay £50, then I get 4x in value of what I would otherwise have."): they now all contain decent cameras, enough storage to work as a decent MP3 player (or in Apple's case even as an iPod...), they do e-mail, connect more effortlessly to the Internet, play more fulfilling games and generally provide a much richer content experience (did I just hear "widgets"?).

For the content industry, this is good news: more powerful devices are generally easier to address and provide a better route to transport brands and production values across to the small screen. The iPhone has shown (see e.g. here and here) that users DO use their phones for all sorts of things if one makes it easy for them. Therefore, the smarter the phone, the higher the consumption. Good, good!