I used to work in market research, so I’m always skeptical of data until I’ve understood how it was measured.  That’s why I was surprised with this headline from TechCrunch: “Apple And Android Now Make Up 75 Percent Of U.S. Smartphone Web Traffic“. More specifically, I was surprised how large Android was in this reported data.  I absolutely believe Android will grow in significance in the future; today is a different story.

To the casual reader, that title of the TechCrunch report, along with the accompanying pie charts suggested that the iPhone and Android accounted for 55 percent and 20 percent of the US smartphone market.  These results position the iPhone and Android in number one and two in US smartphone web traffic.

Digging a little deeper, AdMob clearly explains how they arrive at the data:

“The report is based on the ad requests we receive from our network of more than 15,000 mobile Web sites and iPhone and Android applications.”

I couldn’t find details that split the “15,000” figure between mobile websites and mobile device-specific applications.   Mobile websites that serve information to any device seems like a logical way to measure mobile web traffic. On the other hand, iPhone and Android applications will definitely increase the web traffic counted in the iPhone and Android buckets accordingly. This is not to say that AdMob’s data or methodology is flawed.  Rather, it’s helpful to know what was actually measured and how.

I went back to the October 2008 results and found that over the past year, the number of mobile sites and applications has increased 150 percent from 6,000 to 15,000. I’d love to understand how the additional 9,000 “mobile sites and applications” added in 2009 split across mobile sites versus iPhone or Android applications. There has been an explosion in iPhone applications, so it’s not hard to assume that AdMob is tracking a higher percentage of iPhone applications in its data collection network in 2009 versus 2008.

Another factoid that surprised me, over the past year, the number of requests tracked by AdMob has increased 127 percent from 2.2 billion to 5 billion in the US. The mobile web is still in its infancy and it’ll be interesting to track the number of mobile request in a year. Oh, that and the percent of requests associated with Android phones!

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PS: I should state: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.”

I stumbled upon PhoneGap while exploring twitter this weekend.  PhoneGap is a device independent framework that allows web developers to take advantage of native features (e.g. GPS, accelerometer, sound, vibration) of the iPhone, Android-based devices, and Blackberry devices simply by using JavaScript.  The framework allows web developers to write cross-device applications without having to learn new languages, such as Objective C or Java.

PhoneGap is the brainchild of folks over at Nitobi, a Canadian software firm known for its “Complete UI” platform for building Ajax-powered Web user interfaces.  PhoneGap is an open source project licensed under the MIT license.  The project is looking for help to help mature PhoneGap quickly.

If I worked at RIM, I’d take a trip out to Vancouver to talk to the Nitobi dudes.  This framework is exactly what RIM needs to counter the trend of developers targeting the iPhone/iPod as the premier environment for mobile device applications.  RIM has the brand and market share to persuade developers that writing once and targeting three key mobile platforms is the best use of a mobile developer’s effort. RIM would need to adopt WebKit as the rendering engine for their browser, but that is going to happen anyway ;-)

A Slashdot story reports:

“Google has announced an unlocked version of T-Mobile’s G1 for sale at the same unlocked price of $399. The Android Dev Phone 1 is the G1, except being truly open

This looks like the Open Handset Alliance delivering the promised Open Handset: yes root, yes flash-your-build, no contract, no strings attached.”

While the Android Dev Phone 1 is available to anyone with an Android Market account, which anyone can get, the phone does cost ~$220 more than the subsidized price of $179 from T-Mobile.

This is interesting from a technical and freedom(s) standpoint. However, I’m not entirely sure how/if this will impact the average mobile phone user.

Consumers are much more likely to acquire a phone from their service provider, with an appropriate discount, versus buying this device. For most of consumers, unlocking their phone is as far as they go, and that cost costs $20. So, a subsidized device plus unlocking is $179 + $20 = $199, which is a lot lower than $399 for this device, especially in the current economic climate.

As a result, how large is the market for applications that would run on the Android Dev Phone 1, but not on the consumer-level device? If the market is small, was this a simple story for Google to sell T-Mobile on (i.e. we win developer love and it’ll cost us very little)?

What do you think?

Infoworld is reporting that Nokia is buying the remaining ~52% share of Symbian.  Nokia plans to offer the Symbian operating system royalty-free and open sourcing some portion of the code over the next two years.  Nokia likely hopes that offering Symbian royalty free will bolster the use of Symbian across handset providers and related parties. Also, from a bean counter standpoint, Nokia paid over $250MM in Symbian license fees last year, so paying $410M for the remaining share makes business sense.

The press release states that:

“Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, NTT DoCoMo, AT&T, LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments, and Vodafone Group. All will get access to the Symbian operating system under a royalty-free license.”

So these vendors and anyone else will get Symbian royalty free, but will they continue to use it?

But what is the alternative?  Sure we have the Google-led Android platform, LiMo and Windows Mobile.  But millions of Symbian-based phones have been deployed for years already.  So even if vendors start to experiment with Android for one or two phones in their portfolio, it’s pretty risky to bet the whole product portfolio on Android being successful, or more successful than Symbian.

Since several of the vendors listed as Symbian members are also participating in Android, will this news from Nokia pose another hurdle to Android’s ultimate success?  Especially if Nokia can get the code fully open sourced faster than 2 years?  Part of me even thinks that a royalty free (but not open) Symbian operating system by itself will put a dent in Android’s ultimate success.

What do you think?