Do people have a pent-up desire to surf the Web from their phones? Yes, if the experience isn't a pale substitute for desktop browsing. Based on some fresh data from mobile advertising marketers AdMob, the one smartphone to deliver is, naturally, Apple's iPhone.
The iPhone is winning the mobile Internet war by quite an astonishing margin. AdMob's data, from its Mobile Metrics app, shows that, over the last sixmonths, the iPhone accounts for fully 50% of all mobile browser trafficto Websites for U.S.-based smartphones, and 33% of global smartphonesite visits.
RIM's BlackBerry 8300 takes second place in the U.S., totaling 9.1%; globally, Nokia's N70 handset is the distant runner-up to Apple with just 7.1%. That means that Apple's share of U.S. traffic has risen 40% in six months, and 29% globally. Every other operator (except Android, which is new on the scene) showed a drop over the corresponding period.
Why are the stats so pronounced? The iPhone is just two units on sale in a cluttered smartphone marketplace, and Nokia's handsets outsell everyone else's in the world. One would expect that to be reflected in the figures.
But the real reason lies more in the relative quality of the mobile Web browsing experience. When Apple announced the iPhone, it touted it as a "breakthrough internet device" because it uses a Safari browser that has a common core with the desktop version. And it has lived up to its hype. The iPhone is so adept at viewing most Web pages (except those with Flash, but that's a different debate), there's little need for viewing specialized "m-dot" versions of a Website, tailored for the restrictions of mobile browsers.
Compared with the competition's mobile browsing experiences, it really is a step-change up in user-friendliness. In contrast, it seems users of other smartphones, be they Symbian-based or running a version of Windows Mobile, simply don't use their phones to surf the Web as much as iPhone users do, despite the millions more handsets on the market.
Essentially what the AdMob figures show is that the public really wants to have near desktop-quality Internet capability on their smartphones, and Apple's the best at delivering that so far (in concert with its chosen service providers, of course.) Palm and Google take note, if you want your smartphones to succeed.