AdMob places ads on mobile sites and in applications. The company releases monthly reports based on this data culled from the resulting ad requests, impressions and clicks.
In all, the most recent report said, smartphones represented 48 percent of AdMob's traffic worldwide in February, which was 13 percent higher than the same month last year. The raw traffic increase was 193 percent. The iPhone improved its share from 33 percent to 50 percent, while Android went from 2 percent to 24 percent. So, in terms of percentages, Android went from about one-seventeenth to almost one-half of the portion held by the iPhone. Symbian was the biggest loser, dropping from 43 percent to 18 percent.
The report also found growth for Android-and shrinkage for the iPhone-in the U.S. The iPhone's share among smartphone OSes was 55 percent, 47 percent, 47 percent and 44 percent monthly between November, 2009 and February, 2010. The percentages over that period for Android were 27 percent, 36 percent, 38 percent and 42 percent.
The numbers don't come without asterisks. The first disclaimer is that Google, the progenitor of Android, is in the process of acquiring AdMob, though there is no reason to believe that that is in any way influencing the numbers. The deeper issue is brought out by Dutch OS blogger Peter-Paul Koch, who runs QuicksMode.org. He says that an analysis of AdMob's methodology leads him to discount the major takeaway being trumpeted by the media. Writes Koch:
I am forced to conclude that AdMob's iPhone and Android figures are inflated. The true browser market share of Safari iPhone and Android WebKit is less than the AdMob report suggests.
If Koch is correct, it stands to reason that the position of the two relative to each other also is askew. Koch says that AdMob clearly states the methodology. Those interested in the competition between the two, however, are prone to take the numbers out of context or assign them significance they don't have.
The jostling between smartphone OSes will continue, both in the consumer and corporate sectors (where Changewave sees progress for both the iPhone and Android). These results, even assuming that they are accurate, represent just one snapshot in time. Apple will respond. Indeed, it might be already, with rumors reemerging that it is close to a deal for carriage on the Verizon Wireless network.