Android Snags More of Apple's Market Share

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Since we've been talking all week about the state of the mobile market -- specifically, how Steve Jobs' claims about Apple beating Android are misleading -- I thought I'd pass along some interesting data that hit my inbox this morning.

The folks at Quantcast, who measure mobile Web usage, have released some numbers showing platform-by-platform performance for the month of August. Bear in mind that the research doesn't directly represent the number of devices being sold or activated; Quantcast simply measures mobile Web usage, nothing more and nothing less. One could certainly make the argument that users of some mobile platforms access the Web more often than users of others. Either way, the relative change from month to month gives us valuable insight into the overall trends and how they're shifting.

So, here's what Quantcast found:

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While Apple's iOS is still the dominant player within the U.S. mobile market, you can see that it's been on a pretty steady roller coaster ride downward in terms of share. Android, on the other hand, has been on a meteoric rise -- in fact, August marked the platform's largest single-month growth since November of 2009, when the original Droid debuted.

From year to year, Quantcast finds Android's piece of the pie has increased by 17 percent while Apple's has dropped by 11. RIM, not surprisingly, has also lost a good chunk of its share.

Quantcast's data does not include iPad-based usage; as I pointed out yesterday, the inclusion of the iPad in a mobile market analysis is atypical and creates a nonparallel comparison. That said, Quantcast does include the iPod Touch in its measurements -- also pushing the comparison away from a straight smartphone-based faceoff -- but even that added boost hasn't been enough to help Apple keep up.

(Another study released earlier this week, by the way, did take the somewhat unusual step of lumping the iPad into its mobile market measurements. That may explain some of the differences in its findings; one would certainly imagine iPad users would consume considerably more Web content than their smartphone-holding counterparts. That study also looked at global usage as opposed to U.S.-specific usage.)

Hang on, though: Apple's share is still twice that of Android's, right? Some will undoubtedly use that logic to pooh-pooh the stats. I've said it before and I'll say it again: It's all about the trends. Month after month, quarter after quarter, we're seeing the same story: Apple is losing ground while Android is gaining. It's starting to add up.

Back when we were looking at the same trend in June, some commenters suggested that the debut of Apple's iPhone 4 would turn things around. True Apple fans were waiting to get their hands on that device, they contended, and once it was released, Apple's share would skyrocket.

Unfortunately, that just didn't happen; despite Apple's best efforts at mudslinging, the iPhone 4 has done little to keep people from gravitating toward Android. Sure, the company has sold lots of units -- there's no denying that -- but when it's primarily the existing customer base buying a new product, the overall share doesn't shift.

Let me toss in the usual disclaimer: Market positioning doesn't equal financial success. Apple is still going to be fine. Its legions of fans will continue to snatch up whatever it puts out.

But in terms of relative share -- which is obviously something Apple wants to discuss -- it's going to take an awful lot of "magic" to overcome Android's attack.

Sorry, Steve.

JR Raphael writes about smartphones and other tasty technology. You can find him on Facebook, on Twitter, or at eSarcasm, his geek-humor getaway.

This story, "Android Snags More of Apple's Market Share" was originally published by Computerworld.

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