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back to article Android users: More of them than fanbois, but they don't use the web

Android smartphone shipments now dwarf those of Apple's iPhone, yet Apple's iOS still accounts for the vast majority of mobile web traffic, as reported by The Register. This gaping void between Android adoption and Android-based web browsing, however, isn't cause to ponder whether it's "time to conclude that Android gadgets are …

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Anonymous Coward

I have an Android

and only use it for web browsing when I am out, and need to Google something. That doesn't happen very often. When I'm at home, I use my PC instead.

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Re: I have an Android

I like your thinking: iOS device are more likely to be used as primary computing platform, whereas Androids devices are more likely to be used as a mobile add on.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I have an Android

Interestingly I use my mobile for random searches at home (i.e. a cocktail recipe), but for any shopping I will use my laptop... its not that I don't trust shopping on my mobile.. its that its not convenient on most sites... much nicer to use my laptop...

I have to say that most sites are STILL not tablet/phone friendly, I hate hover to drop down menus, since they don't work right on a tablet or phone, well not that i've seen....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I have an Android

Primary computing platform - don't think so - I'd imagine iPad / iPhone users are equally likely to own a normal desktop / laptop as well. The reality is (and certainly seems that way from friends / family who own Android devices) that they use them mostly as a touchscreen phone and for texting whereas iPhone / iPad users use their devices much more / much often and for more.

I own a Nexus 7 and iPad Mini and if they were both sitting there it would be the iPad I reached for - it's just a bit easier to use, nicer to hold - just a bit better and for most people that's what counts - not how 'open' Android is - they just want something to work.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I have an Android

More sites seem Apple friendly rather than Android friendly - perhaps Safari is just a better browser or perhaps the site developers did more testing on iOS devices but overall surfing is a better experience on Apple devices.

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Candy bars

Probably a big factor is that providers are pushing "average" users towards cheap smartphones from their old candybar Nokias, LGs and Samsungs. They get pushed to a "cheap" Android phone for 1€ and a data flatrate is snuck in the back door, safe in the knowledge that 90% of the new users don't understand smartphones, don't really want/need them (but their freinds have them) and will never use the data allowance.

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Alert

Re: I have an Android

I'm a bit puzzled why this should be "bad news for Google".

It seems to me that the more users they have content with the shallow Google defaults, the better the "wide spread adoption" criterion for accessable deep data looks. Sort of "all of your birdbaths are belong to us and our Silent Majority" metric skewing method. A new Patent is hardly bad news, unless Apple already snagged that one.

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Browser agents

Most browsers on android (android users have a choice) allow you to change the browser agent quite easily so there will be a fair amount of android devices being counted under the wrong device. By default mine announces itself as firefox on windows and for some sites it pretends to be an iphone. Why? Because there a plenty of naff web sites that either steer you to half arsed mobile attempts and some only recognize ios as worthy of steering to their mobile view.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Browser agents

I very much doubt any Fandroid would change their browser to report as an iOS browser.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Browser agents

Do you really believe that many Android users change their browser user agent to make a significant difference?

In any case Chrome on iOS (as well as other browsers) also uses a different identity string from the stock Safari browser, see https://developers.google.com/chrome/mobile/docs/user-agent

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Re: Browser agents

I've not done it but it may be a factor ... I remember in the days when Netscape was trying to nibble away at the IE dominance that there was a belief that Netscape usage were a bit higher than reported due to people changing agent strings ... why, because then many website checked this and sent anything other than the latest IE version to a "we don't support your browser, update to the latest IE" page.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Browser agents

As if the vast majority of users would change their user agent - sounds desperate to justify it - you are talking perhaps 1% or less. The fact is Android users are voice / text users with the odd bit of Angry Birds / Twitter / Facebook and that's about as far as it goes.

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Re: Browser agents

Yes absolutely. The default browser has a visit desktop site option which a lot of people turn on as websites look better generally... And it identifies itsself as a mac than, at least on mine.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Browser agents

Jb99: No it doesn't. It identifies itself as a Linux machine running the Chrome browser:

Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64) AppleWebKit/535.19 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/18.0.1025.45 Safari/535.19

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Facepalm

Re: Browser agents

Yes, no matter whether Android users actually change their user agent string it does highlight the fact that there are so many different Android versions and browsers available that these statistics could easily be way, way out.

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Unhappy

Re: vast majority

Nope, just checked, I never said the word vast. I said "fair" which to me implies a reasonable amount to be considered but nowhere near the majority. Vast to me suggests a hugely significant number.

> sounds desperate to justify it

Nope again, just trying to preempt question on why people would want to do this.

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Re: Browser agents

But dx's supposed counter-example also includes "AppleWebKit" and "Safari", (as does Dolphin Mini on Android). The article does not give the precise methodology, but it is easy to see how such user agent strings from Mozilla and Dolphin browsers could be misclassified as coming from Safari on an Apple device. And then there is the small issue of Opera Mini, classified separately in one of the graphs, despite the user agent string normally revealing the underlying operating system. More evidence of flaky regex in the OS classifiers?

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Re: Browser agents

Yes. I pretty much have to, to make any site more complex than weather.gov work, ESPECIALLY that gold-plated chunk of crap called JP Chase Banking

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PJI
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Happy

Re: Browser agents

Do tell, is ignorance really bliss? I've got Opera and a couple of other browsers on my iPhone, as well as Safari, just for fun and in case some sites are awkward. However, Safari is first choice as it seems the pleasantest to use and generally most capable.

Why do n't people check their facts before broadcasting their ignorant prejudices? Where did you get your idea that there is only one browser for the iPhone?

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Re: Safari is first choice as it seems the pleasantest to use and generally most capable.

Not criticizing on safari or your choice. But remember the days when you had to use IE to view many sites, simply because they put in loads of effort into making to work with complete utter crap markup (usually created with frontpage).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Browser agents

Grasping at straws - truth hurts? People just don't use their Android phones / tablets as much as they use their Apple phones / tablets.

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Re: Browser agents

The other browsers use webkit (Safari) as their rendering engine on iOS, so in reality are only a skin for Safari.

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I only ever browse the radio 2 and radio 4 podcasts on my droid.

All other browsing gets done at work.

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Trollface

huh?

> iPhone users are three times more likely to shop with their phones than Android users, a disparity that was two-to-one just two years ago. This can't be good.

Why is this bad? Apart from the "spending money is good" implication, which is dubious at best, perhaps Android owners realise that a pc with a large screen is a better way to shop online.

Web access on a phone is a last resort (supported by the fact that cellular web traffic is similar) I conclude that having bought an iphone, Apple users can no longer afford a proper computer, or perhaps, they are too dumb to operate one.

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Re: huh?

Depends on what is counted as 'Shopping', is it simply buying physical stuff, or does it include digital media? My guess is that Android users are more likely to shop for (or obtain) digital media via other routes, whereas those who have signed up to the Apple eco-system will most likely be using iTunes directly from their device.

(Even if Android users are buying digital media through their device, how much is captured by this survey given the vast range of available sources for non-Apple controlled stuff.)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: huh?

Or perhaps android users are not smart enough/savvy enough to use their phone to do anything other than text, email, angry birds and make phone calls.......or perhaps they are scared that their app/browser is insecure (maybe with good reason).......

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Holmes

Try looking over the shoulder over an iPhone user

That browser seems permanently stuck on Facebook.

As for Android browsers, as someone has already said, who on Android doesn't change the user agent to desktop?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Try looking over the shoulder over an iPhone user

They can tell by the IP address if you're using a mobile device. Next!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Try looking over the shoulder over an iPhone user

The article is also discussing browsing habits over Wi-Fi. Next!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Try looking over the shoulder over an iPhone

I did and all iOS users I've seen use the much better Facebook app, not the website.

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First, I use Opera Mobile so I'm not sure you can tell I'm using Android at all. It strikes me that Android users are more likely to use alternative software.

Second, it just means that Android users use their phones for other things than shopping. If you're selling a device on the basis that X amount of customers will go shopping on it, you're in the wrong business.

Additionally, if any particular company sees X amount of visitors ask for an Android app or Android compatibility, it's good sense to provide it if you can afford to, whether it gets used or not.

But really, the question is probably more one of damn lies and statistics - iPhone users are more likely to have more disposable income from the start. Android is probably more popular because it is just so much cheaper to obtain and does pretty much the same things, and more. It's also sold a lot more so it captures a lot more of the market, and skewed more to the lower end, which means that the statistics stated are more like saying "Jaguar owners spend more at Waitrose". Entirely true and also completely useless and potentially misleading.

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Statistics

Upvoted because the last paragraph reminded me of a recent XKCD strip. If you can be arsed to copy and paste the link, 'tis below:

http://xkcd.com/1138/

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@Lee Dowling "iPhone users are more likely to have more disposable income from the start"

I think that that does have a great deal to do with it. It would certainly have a considerable effect on the figures in the US. Last time I saw any relevant figures some 50% of Apple's customer base in the US were males in the 20 - 35 demographic living in households with a combined income of in excess of $100k annually. Given the costs involved contra income with regard to mobile broadband it is unsurprising that iOS customers with well above average disposable income (although I am not suggesting that they are "1-percenters" :P) spend more time on the web than the average Android customer. We see after all the exactly the same pattern reflected in average spend on apps per annum amongst the two groups.

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Gimp

Interesting

My theory/no-doubt-ill-informed-gut-feeling: There is a higher takeup of AYCE data tariffs amongst those who can afford to pay the iTax, continual use of which conditions them to also use mobile data more in a free Wi-Fi situation.

My second theory/no-doubt-ill-informed-gut-feeling: There is a positive correlation between those who buy iPhones and those who feel the need to continually update TwitFace with important beverage consumption news etc.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Interesting

There's also a segment of iPhone users who are older, richer, and are wilfully ignorant of what Facebook is but have bought an iPhone because their Guardian or Telegraph recommended it, or else think any smartphone is an iPhone (like a vacuum cleaner is a hoover) like my old man does. Though slow to pick technology up, they spend a fair bit on Amazon on books and CDs. They might even buy a Kindle on a whim, before deciding a week later that they don't like it.

That said, I'd like to give a nod to the lad in my local independent phone shop, who steered the old man towards a Sony Xperia Go- beer, water and muddy-spaniel resistant- rather than a more expensive option. Quite a change from the muppets in the Orange shop who kept him waiting waiting for 20 minutes, before telling him he hadn't brought sufficient ID- despite having the contract's existing phone and a folder of account documentation.

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Linux

It seems that a lot of people who would normally just buy a cheap nokia are actually buying a cheap android handset and have no idea what this internet thingy is at all.

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I think this is exactly what's happening. There's a core of "android users", which is apparently smaller than the ios crowd. Then there's a huge number of regular punters buying a new phone who want a big fancy screen, but don't use it for much other than photos and texts. On iOS it seems far more people buy the phone as a smart phone, and expect to use the internet and apps on it.

This also describes the massive disparity between the ios + android app stores. There's a huge difference in actual app sales, with iOS being typically ahead by around 4:1. (Unofficial figure, but I'm an app developer and talk to lots of other developers and regularly ask people who work on both platforms how they find it - from the ones that make quality apps and know how to market them, this is the common figure. The other common figure is the opposite, 1:4, but that's the amount of support time needed for each platform ;)

What about tablets though? Nobody buys a tablet for anything other than the web and apps - yet usage figures show android far behind what the device sales say they should be.

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Linux

My house mate is one of those users, got himself an android and has vowed to not use as many features as possible simply out of techno-fear!

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WTF?

I'm still not sure how shopping on your mobile phone means that you're a savvy mobile device user, whereas if you just use your mobile device for media consumption and work, then you must be one of those people who wanted a replacement for your Motorola flip phone and they gave you one of these newfangled Ann-Droids.

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I do know a number of Android users that replaced their ancient fold up phones with a cheap Android phone, and don't use the internet features of the phone at all.

Hell, the people in question hardly use the internet in general, and when they do, it's on their computers at home.

How many iPhone users fall into this category?

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Anonymous Coward

Buy cheap, buy twice?

I'm sure there are plenty of fandroids who buy multiple handsets especially when they find out that their current handset won't be getting the latest version of android.

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Re: Buy cheap, buy twice?

You really don't know what you're talking about, do you?

Most people don't go out and buy a new phone outright, they get them given to them when they renew a contract. Not because their existing phone is outdated, or because it doesn't have the latest version of whatever OS it is running, or because it was cheap and they need something more expensive.

My current phone is running an older version of Android, and I don't care. Not bothered one tiny little bit that it won't get another update. Same goes for every PC I have ever owned. Not once I have I ever bought a new OS disc and installed it. Whatever was installed when I bought it, is what was on it the day I stopped using it.

There is some weird obsession, that seems to force some people to demand the latest and greatest version of whatever OS is out there, regardless of whether the new features are worth it or will even work on their old handset.

Finally, you will find that some Apple owners also own multiple handsets, despite the fact that their existing ones can run the latest version of iOS. There will be some people reading this article, with an iPhone 5 in their pockets, and a 3GS, 4 and 4S all sitting in a drawer at home. Likewise, there will also be some with a 3GS in their pocket, running iOS4 and having no intention of updating it.

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Linux

Re: Buy cheap, buy twice?

"I'm sure there are plenty of fandroids who buy multiple handsets especially when they find out that their current handset won't be getting the latest version of android." -- Probably more a case of "My mobile contract runs out soon, what flashy new devices are there? Oooohhh that's nice, so long old phone"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Buy cheap, buy twice?

LOL, and android owners were so quick to rip Microsoft for not upgrading wp7/7.5 handsets to wp8.

Love it!!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Buy cheap, buy twice?

Apple iPhone 3GS is now 4 years old and still going strong and SUPPORTED - runs IOS 6 - how many over 4 year old Android handsets can run the latest version. The dead ones about to go in recycling bags are testament to that unfortunate fact.

Guess if you are someone who wants a new phone every time your contract runs out it's less of an issue - me I'd rather go on SIM only and upgrade when I want - it's saved me a packet over the years. When my iPhone finally gives up (and there is no reason to believe it is about to) then I will upgrade but it certainly owes me nothing after all this time.

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Holmes

"Interestingly, however, for web browsing over cellular networks, Android actually edges iOS, with 34.4 per cent of all mobile web traffic versus 32.8 per cent for iOS:"

Andoid users are smart enough to use the correct device for the correct task. If you want a full browser experience, desktop/laptop is still the best. So when in the office/home, it is probably stil the case that a lot of people use a ful lsize device with a full size keyboard and monitor, and of course support for all the major websites and technologies (obviously this won't be the case for long, but for now it is probably a valid assumption).

Perhaps people who spent hundreds on an iPad feel that they need to use it, even when better options are avaiable, to justify the expense?

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The mobile spending numbers per OS actually make more sense if you assume that the bulk of mobile shopping is done from tablets and not phones. Given Apple's dominance in the tablet area, an iOS bias is only credible.

I find my (Android) phone rather awkward for shopping. The last few times I wanted to order from my phone (theatre tickets), I was forced to switch to the desktop interface because the ticket company's mobile website wasn't accepting orders. I can see myself use a tablet for browsing the online stores, though.

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Pint

"Perhaps people who spent hundreds on an iPad feel that they need to use it, even when better options are avaiable, to justify the expense?"

And perhaps also because fanbois are more likely to believe that "The Desktop Is Dead".

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Apps vs Browser?

I would suggest that a large amount of content consumption and shopping now happens via apps, rather than the native browser on either iOS or Android.

We may see more equality in data volume from apps across the two platforms.

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