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The Persistent Gap Between Mobile Devices And Web Traffic
A new report on Q2 201 4 smartphone traffic in North America from ad-network Chitika prompts us to take another look at the curious gap between mobile device share and what might be called traffic share. It once again raises the question: which set of metrics is more important?
The Chitika data above show the iPhone with 52.3 percent of North American smartphone traffic. That compares with comScore data showing the Apple handset with 41.9 percent market share in the US. By comparison, StatCounter shows the iPhone generating 48.9 percent of mobile web traffic in North America and Android devices (in the aggregate) responsible for 44.6 percent.
Samsung smartphones in North America generate traffic nearly identical to their market share (26.4 percent [traffic share] vs. 27.8 percent [US market share]). I would expect this to be more the case across the board. Yet LG, HTC and Motorola have several more market share points than the web traffic they’re producing.
Overall, the difference between device share and traffic share isn’t as great in the smartphone category as it is with tablets. For example, analyst firm IDC put out its global tablet market share estimates late last month.
IDC’s numbers received a good deal of coverage because, pressured by lower-cost devices, they show the iPad’s apparently continuing market share decline. This story is consistent with two recent quarters of below-expectations iPad sales.
The chart below reflects IDC’s tablet shipments estimates, as a proxy for market share. In Q2 Apple has 27 percent of the shipments, followed by Samsung with 17 percent.
Looking at traffic (StatCounter data), however, there’s an even greater discrepancy between shipments and traffic than in the smartphone category. The iPad has 72 percent of global tablet internet traffic. Android has 25 percent. Surface tablets are less than 1 percent.
No discussion that I’ve heard is entirely satisfactory or explanatory of why these market-share traffic gaps exist and appear to persist. People have in the past cited user demographics as one potential explanation.
Unless there’s a significant time lag between shipments, sales and actual usage, in the tablet category in particular, any discussion of “market share” would appear to be essentially meaningless if those figures aren’t translating into actual usage.