Hacking Mobile Phone Statistics
Is Symbian still the leader for smartphone operating systems or not? How far have Android and iPhones penetrated the market? Who’s the leader for smartphone OS: Symbian? BlackBerry? Android? iPhone? A quick search on Internet provides quite opposite results, and I decided to find out why.
There is no official definition of what a smartphone is compared to a feature phone. Steve Litchfield already mentioned the fact in an interesting article and lists several definitions:
* a phone that can be extended with hundreds of add-on applications
* a phone with a proper OS
* a phone with more advanced abilities than a feature phone
* a phone with a keyboard
* a phone with a big touchscreen
* a phone that is always connected
By the way, note all those definitions are vague: what is a ‘proper’ OS? what size must the touchscreen be? etc.
Companies running statistics often use their own definitions. For example, AdMob “considers a smartphone to run an identifiable Operating System, a feature phone to be mobile phone that does not fit into the smartphone category, and a mobile Internet device to be a handheld device that connects to the mobile Internet but is not a phone” . Nielsen Wire seems to have several definitions: ”cellphones with app-based, web-enabled operating systems” or ”run full operating systems” or ”allow users to access the web and email as well as run thousands of apps and share text and picture messages”.I wish I could find a clear list of smartphones vs feature phones.__ __
Geographic distribution of smartphone OS is uneven, so what makes an accurate title in one country may be absolutely wrong in another. For example, Symbian accounts for only 2% of smartphones in the US in Q2 2010 (source: Nielsen Wire), but 52% of subscribers in Germany in July 2010 (source: ComScore). In addition, geography is full of surprises: in November 2010, Gfk’s reports lead to news titles such as ‘Android overtakes Symbian in Asia’, but a close look to the report shows this so-called Asia does not include China, nor India, nor Japan ?!
Studies take their figures from different sources: market sales, mobile subscriptions, mail / email surveys, website hits, ads etc. Actually, all those sources make sense, but caution is required because they taint results. For example, AdMob measure the number of ads mobile phone request and/or click on. Fine, why not. But I have seen several iPhone applications with the AdMob footer banner, but far less on Symbian. So, if this is true, there will obviously be more hits for iPhones than Symbian on AdMob servers. Another example: market sales are a good indication for the favorite OS, but how does this relate to mobile phones people actually own? Statistics of Nielsen Wire show Android ranks first for the US Q3 2010 sales (32%) but only third (19%) for owners during the same period. But are sales to retailers taken int account? do old-timers use their phones as much as new buyers or is their phone stored in a cupboard? are new phones all immediately activated?
Reality is always complicated.
– the Crypto Girl