AdMob Metrics Offer Preview of Market Future

AdMob put out its February data early this morning. Among the things its shows -- as an indication of future industry trends -- is:

  • The growth of smartphones as a percentage of the market
  • The growth of Android in particular
  • The growth of non-phone Internet devices (MIDs)

First it must be repeated that the data AdMob gathers is from its network and it does not represent an objective view of the mobile Internet as a whole. Still the trends are going to be broadly consistent with the mobile market and Internet more generally.

To that end, I see several things that are interesting about where the market is headed. First: the overall traffic trends on the AdMob network; smartphone share growing (48%), so is the share of MIDs: 

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Smartphones are now approaching 20% of the installed user base in the US. Smartphones and quasi-smartphones will likely come to be dominant (51%) in 3-5 years. In terms of MIDs, here's what AdMob says:

The mobile Internet devices category experienced the strongest growth of the three, increasing to account for 17% of traffic in AdMob’s network in February 2010.  The iPod touch is responsible for 93% of this traffic; other devices include the Sony PSP and Nintendo DSi. In absolute terms, mobile Internet device category traffic increased 403%.

If the iPod Touch is the proof of concept, the iPad will spur growth in this category. There are probably going to be 10 relatively high profile tablet devices in the market. All of them will offer browsers (ultimately) and fall into this MID category. The iPad is likely to be the leader but we'll see.

The challenge with these tablets is how to count and account for them. Are they like laptops without the physical keyboard or are they more like smartphones? Do ads on the iPad, for example, count as "mobile" or will they be counted as Internet ads? It will probably depend on whether the ad is in-app or mobile Web. Even then there will be new ad units for these devices. The use cases for MIDs/tablets will be varied and interesting to watch develop. 

Here's market share data for February 2010 and immediate below AdMob data from a year ago:

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Here's the breakdown:

  • Nokia/Symbian global share: 43% (2/09) 18% (2/10)
  • iPhone OS: 33% (2/09) 50% (2/10)
  • Android:  02% (2/09) 24% (2/10)
  • RIM: 10% (2/09) 04% (2/10)

Among other things what these data show is a three or four way race for smartphone dominance among iPhone, Android, RIM (in the US) and Nokia (internationally). Look in particular at the traffic declines for Nokia, as a percentage of overall AdMob traffic. Palm is dead unless there's a miracle of some sort. And the new Windows (7) Phone isn't out so we can't assess its prospects yet.