Android Gaining, But Not Yet A Worldbeater
Android may have edged out Apple's iPhone operating system in the U.S. smartphone market in the last quarter, but it's still far from conquering the world.
Data from market research firm NPD Group earlier this month showed devices running on Google's Android mobile platform accounted for 28% of smartphones sold to U.S. consumers in the first quarter, compared to 21% for the iPhone OS. That shift caught mobile industry watchers by surprise and underscored the growing stature of Android in the smartphone wars.
But the latest monthly metrics study from AdMob -- the mobile ad network whose acquisition by Google was cleared by the Federal Trade Commission last week -- shows that Android's domain as a mobile ad platform is still limited mainly to North America. The iPhone commands a much bigger international audience.
Three quarters of the Android phones that show up on AdMob's network were located in North America, with 12% in Asia and 11% in Western Europe. By contrast, 49% of iPhone devices were in North America, with 28% in Western Europe and 14% in Asia.
And while the sale of Android devices may have surpassed iPhone's in the first quarter, there are still many more Apple devices out there overall. In AdMob's network, there were 11.6 million Android devices, compared to 40.8 million iPhones, iPod touches or iPads worldwide as of April. (Apple has said it sold 1 million iPads in April, its first month in release.) Apple has a big head start, but with Google activating 100,000 Android phones daily from multiple handset makers and carriers, that wide gap should continue to close over time. Either way, the expansion of both Android and iPhone is welcome news for AdMob since it means an overall growing audience for the ads its serves up.
And since AdMob will soon formally become part of Google, that means Google's success in mobile advertising will ironically be linked to the iPhone's success as a mobile ad vehicle. Much of AdMob's business to date comes from ads run in iPhone apps. Of course, that could change as Google and Apple intensify their mobile rivalry and take steps that would end up pulling AdMob more directly into the Android camp and away from the iPhone.