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 …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

    3. big_D Silver badge

      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.

    4. Gannon (J.) Dick
      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.

  3. vic 4

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Browser agents

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

      1. deshepherd

        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.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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

      1. jb99

        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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

          1. Badvok
            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.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              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.

          2. Chris Fox

            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?

      2. Gene Cash Silver badge

        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

    3. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. vic 4
        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.

    4. PJI
      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?

      1. vic 4

        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).

      2. KjetilS

        Re: Browser agents

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

  4. ukgnome

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

    All other browsing gets done at work.

  5. P. Lee
    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.

    1. Badvok

      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.)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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).......

  6. Lloyd
    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?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Try looking over the shoulder over an iPhone user

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

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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.

  7. Lee Dowling Silver badge

    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.

    1. Harvey Trowell

      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/

    2. Arctic fox

      @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.

  8. Harvey Trowell
    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

  9. Miek
    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      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.

      1. Miek
        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!

      2. Darryl
        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.

    2. JS808

      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?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. thesykes

      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.

    2. Miek
      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"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      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!!

  11. quarky
    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?

    1. Martijn Bakker

      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.

    2. Rambler88
      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".

  12. Nick 22

    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.

    1. Rob

      Re: Apps vs Browser?

      I'm glad someone mentioned it.

      All of these stats talk about browsers. I do a lot of surfing on my Android phone and tablet, but when it comes to shopping, like most customers I have a few stores that I use on a regular basis as I know they will provide what I want at a price I'm comfortable with. Those regular shop brands all have an app and I do my purchases through them.

      El Reg, do you collect stats on which devices use your app? When I'm at work I use the browser for this site, if I'm out and about or at home I use the app.

  13. Andrew Jones 2

    Not sure I understand the point -

    Android users buy Android because it's cheaper than iDevices BUT they mostly browse over mobile networks - and yet they probably aren't on an unlimited tariff.... is that really what the research is saying?

    As for shopping.... don't suppose it has crossed analysts minds that maybe Android users actually use the apps they download as opposed to the Facebook mentality that afflicts iDevice users - just as you get the "I must have as many friends as I can possibly get even then I only know 10 of the 62,000 on my friends list" Facebook users - there does seem to be a definite "I must fill my device with more apps than I will ever use just because I can".

    In short - I am quite happy to use the ASDA or Tesco shopping apps on my Android phone for actual shopping - instead of using the respective website. Perhaps iDevice users have the app - but prefer to use the website (or maybe forget they have an app for it since they have 90 billions pages of app icons)

    1. Miek
      Linux

      "Android users buy Android because it's cheaper than iDevices" -- Not at all, for me, I personally hate iTunes and the way that Apple place artificial limitations on their products along with the general contempt they have for their paying customers.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Traffic from iPhones is obviously going to be much higher than from Android due to the need to add

    "sent from my iPhone"

    to every packet!

    1. Andrew Jones 2

      Must stop drinking coffee when reading el-reg forums.....

      Please send me a new keyboard to: P.O Box.........

      (Not sent from an iPhone)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      LOL Android does it too with much larger, wasteful, names:

      I.e. "sent from my Samsung Galaxy S2 Epic 4G"

      People actually leave it that way when posting in forums! Idiots.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is NO surprise I know loads of Android users who basically got their phone as a freebie upgrade from some old candybar style and use it for text and calls only - most do NOT even have a data tariff enabled.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Basically we a small hard-core of Android users who surf, stream and everything and the rest (98%) who do very little other than text and make calls (which is fine).

    I know lots of people with both Android phones and iPhones - all the iPhone users have email on their phones, use them for calling / text (obviously) but also surfing, facebook, games, browsing - everything. I'd day 90% of the Android users do not even have email on their phones - many do not even have data tariffs as they are just not interested and just wanted a smarter looking phone.

    Some even call their phones - iPhones and I've heard a lot of people calling their non-Apple tablets iPads as well.

  17. Tim 54
    FAIL

    Still get the money

    The key thing for Google is getting and Targetting ads. That's where they make the money. The problem with this article is that the analysis is right, but the conclusion is wrong.

    I'm an android user. That means Google knows where I live, where I travel (and when) and so on.

    An advertiser cares I'm a bloke in southampton. Do they care if I surf from my PC at home or on my phone? I doubt it. The ability to target me is based on what Google knows about me, and my Android phone adds massively to that. That ups the value of my PC advertising.

    Google knows what it's doing......

  18. danny_0x98

    Given that iOS share is currently best in the iPad-like sector, it follows that the ratio in cell phones is worse than 15:75, so with cellular network usage being fairly close, the question about usage versus ownership hasn't been obviated.

    But, I'm not sure, other than bragging rights, what this matters. Used to be that people were citing Android's rapid catch-up and surpassing of iOS share as a harbinger of Apple's mobile doom, but so far, it hasn't been going according to the 1990s script. I suspect it's because, and I think this is ironic, the network effect of desktop operating systems and application breaks down when communications and computation are highly networked.

    A sober discussion of statistics and trends subverted by an unfortunate title, though I understand that El Reg is irreverent to a fault; perhaps super-imposing insulting terms upon Mr. Asay's writing is such a fault-line.

  19. FartingHippo
    Boffin

    Simples

    Android users are smart enough to use Wifi.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Simples

      But apparently not smart enough to read the article?

  20. Gadget Rage is BAD
    FAIL

    Its hardly complicated.

    A massive percentage of Android users are folk who have been given it free or cheap by the phone operator. They have minimal interest in using it as a smartphone or at least minimal understanding of how to use it as a smartphone and given that Android is hardly intuitive with its myriad of options (which is exactly why many geeks do like it and thats their choice) its not a huge surprise that your 65 year old auntie doesn't use to surf the net and she probably doesn't even know what an APP is!

    More iOS users buy the device to USE it for what makes it more than a normal phone or mp3 player whereas many Droid owners neither know nor care what their free phone can do.

    1. Darryl

      Re: Its hardly complicated.

      So USING a phone means shopping with it?

    2. Riccardo Spagni

      Re: Its hardly complicated.

      Indeed - I said the same thing before I noticed your comment:) Be prepared to be downvoted to hell by the legions of Fandroids and apologists here.

  21. badmonkey

    why don't Android users surf the web using Wi-Fi more often?

    Because iPads still dominate the tablet market, where many products are wi-fi only or are mostly used only in scenarios with wi-fi access.

    In the mobile internet stats, where phones are more likely to be the devices in use, we see what we would expect.

  22. Captain Hogwash Silver badge

    I'm a reluctant Android user who limits surfing via the phone due to:

    i) there are few times during any given day when I don't have something more suitable available such as a desktop or laptop PC.

    ii) I don't know what data is being slurped by Google and it's much harder to find out/control it than on a PC. (Feel free to debunk this point if you can - I'd love to replace the tinfoil hat with something in felt.)

    However, I know other Android users who know nothing much of the web capabilities of their phones. They use them for calls/texts but don't have data plans. Many are on PAYG and won't use data services because of the (perceived?) high cost. Often they chose the phone on the basis of camera quality and just happened to get Android by default. Hell, a lot of them don't even know they have Android - as far as they are concerned they have an HTC or a Sony or whatever.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pretty little graphs mean F all.

    I don't believe the sh te that I'm forced to read because my experiences do not tally with the pretty little graphs and bullshit commentary.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Your experience is obviously all that matters in your little world.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    yay, more bullshit

    that pretends that Android handsets are bought by people that can't afford iPhones.

    Sigh.....

  25. Androgynous Crackwhore
    Facepalm

    uh?

    Has the author mistaken BROWSER for OS?

    What is that (strongly showing 3rd) "Opera Mini" in the graph of data supposedly supporting the article? Why didn't it get a single mention in the copy? To which OS was it attributed?

  26. FlingoBingo

    Browser Agent

    Another vote for browser agent. When the wife first got her Asus Transformer she set it to IPAD, otherwise the BBC claimed her device wasn't compatible. These days she leaves it as 'desktop'. None of her browsing gets recorded as Android - doesn't mean it's not happening though.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Stop

      Re: Browser Agent

      If that many people left it on desktop we'd see a massive surge in Linux web browsing, which is what Android reports when in desktop mode.

      However none of the reports (e.g. StatCounter) shows this, Linux web browsing in total still accounts for less than 2% of worldwide browsing, exactly the same as 3 years ago when Android started gaining popularity.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Browser Agent

        Proving few people change user agent.

      2. vic 4

        Re: that many people left it on desktop

        That assumes you set it to a linux desktop agent. Default "desktop" agents usually pretend to be windows, even nowadays there are websites that don't like linux.

        1. Riccardo Spagni

          Re: that many people left it on desktop

          Wrong, Android sets it to Chrome on Linux.

          1. vic 4

            Re: Wrong, Android sets it to Chrome on Linux.

            Android does, or at least the browsers do. However we were talking about changing the browser agent to pretend to be a desktop browser, many "default" desktop settings you can choose from pretend to be windows desktops.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For me the reason is simple

    For all the talk that Google is the master of the Web, Apple actually produces and delivers a much more pleasurable and polished web browsing experience.

    Web browsing on Android always make me wish I was using a desktop instead. iOS on the other hand makes me wish at could do all my browsing there, the only reason not to is because there's still a handful of braindead sites which don't cooperate.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: For me the reason is simple

      "Web browsing on Android always make me wish I was using a desktop instead. iOS on the other hand makes me wish at could do all my browsing there, the only reason not to is because there's still a handful of braindead sites which don't cooperate."

      ..until you get to websites with stupid bloody javascript menus, or forms which need a fair bit of text editing, then it gets a bit annoying. If I am lounging on the sofa trying to do webby things on my iPad, as soon as I have to handle any quantity of text, the lousy interface conventions mean that I could save a buttload of time by booting up the PC instead. God, how I wish Apple at least gave us a bit draggable cursor puck thingy a la Android. Having to dig out the Apple BT keyboard to get the benefit of proper cursor control means actually getting up off my arse (gasp), and the BT stack in my iPad 3 is lamentably laggy- I can type faster than it can register. I know it's the stack, as the same KB is quick like a fox when used with a Nexus 7 or my MBP.

      Le grumble..

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: For me the reason is simple

        Agree - think a lot is down to the browser - i.e. Safari and the whole iOS experience is better. I'd say at least 3/4s of the Android users I know are not even on data tariffs and to them it's just a touch screen phone and it gets used only for calls and texts.

        I'd say less than 10% use email on their Androids whereas every iPhone user seems to.

        1. vic 4

          Re: For me the reason is simple

          > think a lot is down to the browser

          Yep, give me Dolphin over safari any day.

          But a lot to do with it is down to the web site, which fair enough is irrelevant from a users point of view. Many web sites either just let android browsers use the standard web site view, and some send you to some ios look and feel site which looks so out of place,

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

  28. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Unhappy

    My 2p worth

    I have a Kindle HD Fire so it is sorta like and Android tablet.

    The only time I connect to the internet is to download some E-books. If I recall, I've yet to fire up the web browser.

    I do listen to music (downloaded from my PC over USB cable) and the same goes for TV Progs I've PVR's.

    The HDMI Output is pretty good and the Hotel I'm currently staying in has TV's with HDMI Inputs. Yay.

    I did have an iPad in my previous job. I used it for a lot of web browsing so I guess that the general impression of the use of Android Tablets might not be too far wrong.

    What I hate is that some of the games (Sudoku and Solitaire) keep trying to phone home. I wish I could configure them to stop nagging me to 'Follow them on Faceblock' or upload my scores.

    Offline, is just that offline and the devices should recognise that have. The Sudoku one even does it in flight mode. As a developer, I consider that this is just sloppy pprogramming.

  29. Swedish Chef
    Trollface

    Using iGadgets to surf at home...

    One could argue that Android owners are more likely to have enough money left to buy a proper computer for browsing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Using iGadgets to surf at home...

      You could try but it's not true. Suspect far more android handsets are on el cheap PAYG tariffs or lower cost monthly tariffs (often without data).

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  30. DrXym Silver badge

    There is a reasonable explanation for this

    iPhones are typically sold on expensive tariffs that bundle data. Android phones are more commonly sold in a mix of tariffs including PAYG, and sim free where data might possibly be opt-in and may be more limited.

    So it affects usage habits. e.g. I pay for 700MB data as an extra on my PAYG plan which is enough for mail and some casual web browsing but I'm not going to be watching YouTube videos through it any time soon. And I have wifi at home so it's only for when I'm out and about - as soon as I get home the phone automatically switches across.

  31. Jim Lewis

    1. One of the aspects of iDevices that the fans point to the most is the usability. IE the target market is for the less tech savvy consumer.

    2. Less tech savvy people may not regularly use/have access to a PC. I have friends in this category who hadn't sent an email prior to owning an iPhone

    3. Given that for such users the iDevice is the only platform available to shop from it's hardly surprising the data reflect this.

    4. I use an Android phone, and do use it for browsing, usually via wifi, when i can't be arsed to fire up my PC. However, with a PC in front of me during working hours it is this that I use for the majority of my transactions.

    1. Harvey Trowell
      Thumb Up

      Hell yes

      Much better idea to do your shopping whilst you're being paid for your time, if nothing else it frees up more pub hours.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fandroids want to believe it's down to user agents etc. - the simple fact is iDeveices are typically used more and to more of their ability (web, email, apps etc.) whereas most Android devices (if they even know it's Android) are colour screen e-readers OR basic media players OR infrequent web browsers. In reality many will be on simple PAYG call / text plans and not or little used for any data.

  33. vic 4
    Trollface

    Anroid makes less http requests maybe

    Google search vs siri is better so don't need to visit as many sites looking for stuff.

    Plus you can get ad blocking software for android so less traffic from ads and scripts

  34. JeffyPooh Silver badge
    Pint

    The answer may be in the Data Plans

    Here at work, there are more Android phones than iPhones. But the iPhone people tend to have mobile network plans (subscriptions) that include significant monthly data allowance, either 1GB or (in my case) 6GB per month. The Android people here at work are cheap and thrifty and almost universally have cheap-as-chips 'Pay-As-You-Go' type plans and have data allowances on the order of 10MB or 100MB per month.

    So the next question is why Android people have smaller data plans than iPhone people. I think it's because thrifty people are repulsed by "expensive" iPhones (thus are forced to Android), and are shocked to their core by they-really-are-fricken-expensive generous GB-class data plans.

    Homework: Plot the Android/iPhone ratio as a one-dimensional function from London to Edinburgh. Just sayin'.

  35. jfvb

    Android owner surfing with iPad

    Owner of an Android phone because I'm a prepaid user. Without data plan there isn't much incentive to use the web, the screen size doesn't help too. So my main tool for internet use is the iPad through wifi (i bought the iPad mainly because of the 4:3 screen ratio and the apps).

    All is not bad for Google in my situation as the Android phone is a way of keeping me using their services.

  36. Steve Foster

    What about tethering?

    Although I have a good data allowance with my Android phone, I probably use more of that allowance through tethering from a laptop while out and about. My suspicion would be that they probably haven't allowed for that in their figures.

  37. Alan Denman

    £36 and $65 contracts are the norm for iThingsies.

    It simply shows that they have been suckered into paying fat sums so they have to get their moneys worth.

    £720+ worth of IOS internet versus £100 or so paid out on PAYG Android.

    Obvious innit?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: £36 and $65 contracts are the norm for iThingsies.

      Perhaps - but of course a lot of that cost is paying for the handset itself.

      I suspect a lot of people get a free (cheap) Android handset when renewing their £15-20/month contract buut often it has no data so basically they are just getting the handset to use as a full screen phone (plus texts).

      To get higher end Android phones or an iPhone you are looking at the £30-50/month end of the market. Either way the majority of Android users are phone users and benefit little from having a smart phone (other than it looks cool) whereas iPhone users are much more likely to actually get proper use from their phones.

      Most businesses I see are buying iPhones instead of Android as well and largely moving from Blackberry.

      1. alun phillips
        Megaphone

        Re: £36 and $65 contracts are the norm for iThingsies.

        I believe the proper use for a phone may be given away by their name "PHONE", all the smart phone gubbins is a perk to us power users. Most of the iPhone users in work spend considerably more time on FB on their iPhones than I do on my android phone so yes they use the net more is that anything really to crow about?

        Personally i select the best tool for the job, so if im doing intensive web search prior to buying something it's normally done via my pc.

      2. Chemist

        Re: £36 and $65 contracts are the norm for iThingsies.

        "when renewing their £15-20/month contract buut often it has no data so basically they are just getting the handset to use as a full screen phone (plus texts)."

        It's quite possible (my wife has just done it) to get a mid-range Android phone, 1GB data, 250 mins, 5000 texts for £15/month in the UK.

        1. SuperHoopMango
          Happy

          Re: £36 and $65 contracts are the norm for iThingsies.

          Why?

          Why would you bring a reasonable point to a shit-slinging contest?

          I was really getting into the iOS/Android argument, and you bring up a common sense point! Not fair!

          Anyway, as an Android user with an almost 2 year old Galaxy S, I use the browser occasionally, if I'm out. Other than that, a laptop or PC will do for me. I use MY phone to it's fullest potential, but fully expect to go to the S3 when I upgrade.

          Now, on the 1st page someone made reference to a 65 year old user who may not even KNOW they've got a smartphone, if it's a basic Android.... Well, guess what? I have a 65 year old mother who is most impressed with her mid-range Droid! And also uses it for a myriad of tasks.... From shopping to booking tickets, to alarm clock and diary.

          Not ALL OAP's are full of technofear!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: £36 and $65 contracts are the norm for iThingsies.

      That may be true but a user who buys no apps / media and has no data add-on etc. is worthless - or worth no more than someone buying a basic Nokia etc. Building no loyalty to Android and Google getting no data to mine / sell ads on.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Some stats from the mobile networks would be good - I'd suspect high end Android handsets probably use more data on average than lower end ones which may not actually have any data bundled.

  39. LardyLoafer

    Android browser has a setting to impersonate a PC. I have that permanently set so that websites don't render me the 4.0 inch version of their pages. The webserver stats thus record my android tablet as a PC and I suspect this has skewed the figures behind the content of this reg article.

  40. Bugs R Us

    Even simpler

    I reckon Android smartphone users use the dedicated apps over the web sites for common activities like Facebook, eBay, Amazon.

    I use Facebook, eBay, Amazon and The Register, of course, but I access these through their dedicated apps, it's a better experience than a browser on a small screen. Not that Chrome is a poor experience on a smartphone, it's just that it is a lot easier to use the apps.

    If there is no app, I use a desktop or laptop.

    As folks have mentioned, it is worth remembering that this data is US centric. Would be interesting to see the same graphs for China, India and Europe (especially Spain where Android has over 95% share).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Even simpler

      "I reckon Android smartphone users use the dedicated apps over the web sites for common activities like Facebook, eBay, Amazon."

      No more than iOS users do so that negates that.

  41. Riccardo Spagni
    Facepalm

    This is quite obvious

    All the fandroidism in this thread is scary - like the people saying that the statistics are skewed because of user agent settings etc. Seriously. Stop being imbecilic.

    The only person I noticed pointing out the obvious is big_D in his candy bar comment. Average users are walking into stores wanting to get a new phone after theirs died/atrophied/got lost/needed to be replaced due to contract renewal. Have you seen many dumbphones in stores nowadays? And how many of those dumbphones get pushed onto the unwitting purchaser? Sales people in mobile phone stores occasionally (if not often) earn commission - they are going to get the unwitting purchaser to get the most expensive phone they can afford.

    Enter Android.

    Anecdotal evidence supports this conclusion, but the numbers in this article do too. We know there are a lot of Android devices out there, but they aren't being used to access the Internet. The reason is because the unwitting end user wants it to make calls, send texts, and maybe occasionally play some music or a game. Many of them won't even use the Google Play store, they will settle for whatever is on the phone, because they're so used to their previous phone having Snake on it.

    1. badmonkey

      Re: This is quite obvious

      But you missed the point in the article that actual mobile internet usage is comparable on Android. It's only over wifi that Androids aren't being used as much as iOS.

      My answer to this is: iPad. In the tablet market, Apple still holds dominance that it lost years ago in the phone arena. Tablets are more likely to use wifi for various obvious reasons. QED.

      As iOS loses the tablet market also to Android over the long run, these figures will even out.

      Then there are a few other marginal factors such as custom browsers like Opera being used and deliberate spoofing of user agents by the more tech-literate demographic that is more likely to go with Android.

  42. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Article has at least one elementary flaw

    As much as I like the Akamai IO project the effects of the US skew of the data cannot be understated. For example it credits IE (all versions) with around 50 % market share and it significantly increased at the end of June. Comparable worldwide figures including countries like Korea and China with surprisingly high proportions of IE users give it around 30 % market share. The skew for mobile devices will be even greater because of the greater reach of IOS devices in America.

    However, on top of this there is gaping flaw in these stats: Apple is a heavy user of Akamai and Google is not so an awful lot of those users with Android are permanently off Akamai's radar. We can add to this the conflation of IOS with phones. Tablets, where Apple still has a commanding lead worldwide, are used far more for browsing than phones including displacement of PCs and notebooks in the home. Displacement is important as it exaggerates the effect of market share. As long as you don't have to do a lot of form filling then a tablet is definitely the most convenient web device which is why Apple is prepared to go to such lengths to try and preserve its lead.

    Nevertheless, when it comes to shopping statistics, Luke Wroblewksi, who writes both more intelligently and coherently than Mr Asay quotes IBM (via Techcrunch) for the Thanksgiving period: "The iPhone was the most popular device driving US retail shopping with 10.5% of visits, the iPad accounted for 10.1% of all visits and Android devices were 7.7%." A much narrower gap and that for the US market.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Article has at least one elementary flaw

      He also said:

      "Android went from 1.43% of Black Friday shopping traffic in 2010 to 4.92% in 2012. In same time iOS went from 3.85% to 18.46%."

      So Android increased by 2.4x and iOS increased by 3.8x even though Android is shipping more volume of handsets. So in actual fact the gap is widening.

      Another way to look at it - if Android got 4.92% and iOS 18.46% - iOS is responsible for 2.75x the mobile device visits which is a bit like Android having 26-27% of the mobile 'usage' market and iOS having the rest.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As I have always said

    Android is deliberately purchased by a few nerds and reluctantly purchased by the worlds poor people (who would really like an iPhone). Google never split out their highly suspect 'activation' figures by region. This is because they do not want to alert their advertising customers that the bulk of their user base consists of poor people in Africa and Asia. These people have no disposable income and are thus not particularly attractive to Googles advertising clients.

    Earlier posters are also missing the point - Googles intent with Android is that you use the devices to purchase things and/or make purchasing decisions. This is what advertisers value. There is no point in Google using Android to 'track' or 'learn about' Android users if these Android users never actually purchase anything......

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: As I have always said

      Correct. People who buy Android (apart from the zealots) either wanted an iPhone but could not afford one, do not know the difference or just ended up with one by default when upgrading their contract and probably do not even have a data contract - i.e. use it as a simple phone with a glass front instead of buttons.

  44. Adam Feldman
    Meh

    Don't believe every statistic you hear.

    I've had quite a few times where analytics services on websites have told me that my Android Browser was Safari, so I'm not so sure how much I'd trust these analytics. Just my 2 cents.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't believe every statistic you hear.

      Oh the irony - android having to pretend it's iOS / safari - gotta tell you something.

      Fancy a BMW M3 badge for your BMW 316 sir?

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I do love the irony that fandroids are desperate to claim the stats must be wrong because people change their user agents (to pretent to be Macs) or use apps instead of web etc. Fact is few people would know how to change the user agent and I'm sure more (or at least the same ratio) of Apple users use 'apps' so it negates that issue.

  46. the86d
    Happy

    Clearly iPhone/iPhruity lovers don't know anything about Android...

    You don't even need a browser on your Android device to browse web pages.

    It is called a RDP client, or Citrix Receiver, all encrypted. We don't need to drop tons of data, as we can just swap MicroSD cards in and out on the fly...

    Hell, I used to VPN into my home network, or work and browse from that computer. This is the benefit to having a keyboard on an Android /dev/, FULL SCREEN USAGE AND KEYBOARD AT THE SAME TIME.

    I don't need a browser to Download/upload files from/to home/work, FTP, SFTP, and SMB via VPN.

    Hell, on an Android you can even boot off iPhruity-phone users of WiFi, some apps even tell you it is an Apple device so you can choose what ones to drop... http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/graphics/icons/comment/happy_32.png

    This article shows the ignorance of some iPhruity-fan-ghouls...

  47. sisk Silver badge

    Silly logic

    If someone can't afford internet and a $50 wireless router why in the world would you think that they would spend a couple hundred dollars on a smart phone of any type and the monthly fee for the data plan (which is always expensive by the standards of someone on that tight a budget) to go with it? I would suggest that the answer lies in other factors. I don't know what they are, but the idea of someone who can't afford a wireless router having a smart phone is just silly.

    I do note the absence of Dolphin Browser on the chart. I've gotten the impression that it's at least as popular as Opera Mini on Android. I may be mistaken about that, but if I'm not then that would account for a huge chunk of Android web traffic not being represented.

  48. GoonrGrrl

    I pretty much AM that user. ;-)

    Thought I'd check in from the USA with some real-world comments on the "Android experience". I pretty much AM the user you're attempting to quantify. I earn low 5-figures a year, live WAY out in the boonies (we don't even get cable TV let alone 3G), am too broke to be able to afford ANY contract phone (let alone an i-anything), but I'm also sufficiently geeky that I don't mind mucking about with stuff to see if it will work. I work a day job with a very nice desktop (it better be, I built it myself) and have an even nicer desktop at home (ditto) that I use for pretty much everything - it's a DAW, a wireless hub and a home theater system out here where we don't get cable and have to stream everything. I also own a very cheap, very slow, 3G-less, Google Play-Store-less, rooted Android 4.0 tablet from Shenzen that I use as a mobile workstation of sorts, and I just finally broke down and bought my first Android smartphone: Android 2.3, no contract/pay as you go, runs on the towers of the ONLY provider that covers this area (sort of) but saves me $200 a month. It's not rooted yet, I'd love to have Android 4.0 at least but I'm trying to work my nerve up since by MY standards I did pay quite a lot for it at US $200.

    It is true. I DEFINITELY do not shop with it. The first thing you learn about Android when you start using it is how insecure it is (e.g. the Eurograbber thing just last week). There is NO WAY that my personal financial information is getting anywhere NEAR my Android-anything. I do the majority of my shopping online, but it's from desktop boxes at work and home, NOT from my cell. Even then, I have a prepaid credit card I use most places so if my data gets stolen I'm only out maybe $50, they're not going to get my whole bank account.

    Browsers: I use Opera Mini only on both my tablet and my smartphone. If I do use the browser it's to surf the one forum I regularly frequent.

    Apps: As others have pointed out, I use apps to get my data more than I do the browser. I have the obligatory FB, 2 very nice news aggregator apps (1 for US, 1 for UK), a couple of soccer news apps, TweetDeck, the 2 main e-readers, and a few music-performance related apps (tuner, metronome, recorder), some utilities (AV, data manager, etc.), Dragon Remote Mic which I use all the time at work, and that's about it. Remember that low-end Android devices are *severely* limited by the amount of onboard memory. I have to be *really* careful how many apps I install, and I have to go thru them all about once a week and empty caches, delete data, etc. If an app can't be set up to run off the SD card, it's useless to me. A surprising number of apps still don't do this. So that's lesson one for Android developers - MAKE IT RUN OFF THE FSCKING SD CARD.

    The Play Store. It's a draaaaaaaaaag. So much scamware, bloatware and crapware you can't FIND anything. And when you do, you really have to read the fine print. Perfect example: I got ALL excited to find what looked like a pretty reasonable DAW/Garageband clone for Android.... which I *would* in fact pay good money to run on my tablet... only to find that the TOS states the developer OWNS the copyright to EVERYTHING you create on it. Gee, let's think about that deal for 3 ms: I pay you for it AND you get all my copyrights? How 'bout "NO." We still need a good Garageband, and I still would pay for it. The only other app I paid for is a music notation program which actually does work, at least to do what I personally need it to do. I would pay even more for apps that are related to my profession, but my profession is one of the ones that is notoriously lagging behind on going mobile, and there's nothing out there to buy. (I'm half toying w/ learning how to program so I can develop my own, since NOBODY else is doing it.)

    Lastly: we don't stream b/c we are data-capped, and in fact on my provider, streaming is a TOS violation: they will brick your phone and lose your phone number. We don't have the option on this provider (yet) to buy more data when we've used up the 2 gig/mo. Even FB can be a bit of a data hog by these standards. Therefore I have to manage data very carefully too. Yet another reason not to do any shopping on the little fscker, and it's just as well that none of the nav apps work at all out here where I live (Google Maps can't find my house and thinks my best friend 1/2 hour away lives 500 *miles* away).

    But ya know, as long as I can get the Arsenal scores on the fly and use it as an e-reader in the checkout line at Wally World, it's all good... :-P It's not, really, but given the lack of 3G, I'm not sure an iPhone or iPad would perform any better out here, to be honest.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019