Is this the beginning of the end of the PC-era?

07 February 2012

While eMarketer forecasts that one in three online consumers will use a tablet by 2014 and Canalys reported that 487.7m smartphones were shipped in 2011 (compared to 414.6m PCs), our survey of ten travel websites with 2.75m users in January 2012 suggests, again, that Apple users dominate mobile web browsing. Our observation that Android users seem not to surf much, first raised last August in So, Google, where are all the Android browsers? is strongly confirmed in our latest report.

The survey also concludes that brands that have not yet addressed mobile users’ needs by offering mobile-friendly web browsing experiences, need to do so now.

At the very least, brands must now optimise their websites for tablets, with finger-friendly navigation and controls enabling swipes, tilts, zooms and pinches and replacing Flash with HTML 5. In most cases, making websites smartphone-friendly will require a fundamental re-think of both website content and structure.

Winners

Apple’s iOS (iPad, iPhone, iPod) dominance is even more apparent, with iPad’s and iPhone’s accounting for over 85% of mobile browsing devices in the survey – and even higher on top-end luxury brand websites. Apple’s recent quarterly earnings of $46.3bn and record quarterly profit of $13.06bn has been attributed to the surge in iPhone and iPad sales (37m iPhones and 15.4m iPads) and with iPad 3 and iPhone 5 due for launch this year, iOS is likely to continue its dominance.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, websites developed with mobile browsing in mind have been big winners in our survey, with these sites showing a 100%+ increase in mobile traffic in just 6 months.

Losers 

Despite all the recent hype about Android smartphone and tablet shipments, our survey shows only a fraction of those shipped are being used to browse websites. Android’s overall share of web browsing has actually dropped from 9.6% to 8.2% since August.

Our results show Android browsing is doing better on mass market travel websites, indicating more demographic strength in price-sensitive markets, but even on these websites iOS continues to forge ahead.

Nokia and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 7 operating system hardly register in the survey, with Symbian falling away, leaving the new partnership with a mountain to climb.

Au revoir 

BlackBerry browsing has virtually fallen off the chart, despite claims it is still the UK’s No1 smartphone. If it is, users are certainly not browsing the web with their BlackBerry devices or BB’s appeal with teenagers doesn’t register on this survey. The new ‘London’ product had better be a game-changer…

Follow more news on this and other topics on Twitter @NucleusLondon

Postscript 

08 February 2011: Released on the same day as our survey, Google announced it was (finally) launching a beta of its successful Chrome browser for Android. Chrome has little in common with the native Android Web browser and is considered to be far superior at handling intensive web browsing experiences. Perhaps Android’s native browser is one of the reasons Android devices have lagged Apple’s in our web browsing surveys? At least Google seems to be aware of this and time will tell if Chrome makes a difference to Android's penetration of mobile web browsing...

Peter Matthews
Nucleus Founder & CEO
February 2012

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