updated 09:30 am EST, Fri February 18, 2011
Medialets points to iPhone retaking mobile ad lead
Medialets on Friday gave a minor surprise to the industry with a new study that showed iOS had retaken the lead from Android in mobile ad share. After trailing for September through November, the iPhone and iPad bounced back December to make up a much higher share of premium ad inventory for mobile apps. The combined index for the two passed 4.0 where Android had leveled off at 3.0.
Most of the uptick was attributable to iPhone and iPod apps, where the index virtually doubled to 4.5. The iPad grew more cautiously but still moved up over a full point on the company's scale.
The company also helped give some insight into the nature of Android platform fragmentation, but noted that it wasn't as severe among the devices what users were actually buying. Although differing versions of Android are present on many of the devices, about 35 percent of ad access came from just three devices, the original Motorola Droid, the HTC Evo 4G and Motorola's Droid X. HTC's Droid Incredible and Motorola's Droid 2 were also in the top five, and all but the original Droid are now running Android 2.2.
HTC and Motorola were nearly equal in Android manufacturer share, at over a third, while Samsung had almost a fifth.
The carrier bias among Android phones helped validate concerns that Google was leaning too heavily on Verizon for success. Almost half of all Android ad traffic, 48.5 percent, was going to Verizon phones. Sprint and T-Mobile combined couldn't match it at 24.8 percent and 17.7 percent each. AT&T, still the exclusive iPhone carrier at the time, had just 3.4 percent.
While Apple gave fewer choices for devices, it also saw less splintering of OS use. About 68 percent of owners passing through Medialets' ad inventory were using some version of iOS 4. About 31.8 percent were still running iOS 3, while almost none, 0.2 percent, were more than one significant revision back. Google has said that only 0.8 percent of phones are running its latest significant OS variant, 2.3, where 57.6 percent are using 2.2 and 41.6 percent are using a version that's at least a year old.
Medialets isn't fully indicative of market share but, as one of the largest mobile ad distributors, can reflect trends. Medialets suggested that much of the burst in iOS share could be attributed to holiday gifts. Where Android hasn't had any significant media player offerings until this year and won't have had a similar improvement for tablets until Android 3.0, Apple has regularly had the iPod touch and now the iPad as gifts for those who didn't want one of its devices on contract.