comScore released their annual report that assess the ever-changing landscape of mobile technology. The report, "2012 Mobile Future in Focus," examines what's changed in the past year as well as how those changes will shape the upcoming year in the mobile device industry.
"2011 proved to be a groundbreaking year for the mobile industry, with smartphones hitting the mainstream, tablets emerging as a formidable fourth screen, and consumers increasingly integrating mobile behaviors into their lifestyles. As the industry continues to innovate and more consumers look to multiple devices and platforms to consume digital media, we expect the mobile and connected device landscape to be shaken up even further in 2012," said Mark Donovan, comScore Senior Vice President of Mobile. "As mobile channels present a more personal, social, and ubiquitous experience to consumers, advertisers and publishers have an opportunity to better engage target audiences, given an understanding of how to connect and leverage the unique characteristics of these emerging platforms."
Indeed, internet-enabled mobile devices are becoming a larger market share of total internet traffic. By the end of 2011, smartphones and tablets were responsible for nearly 8% of all observed internet traffic in the United States. Smartphones represented 5.2% while tablets, despite still being a relatively new type of device, generated 2.5% fo the traffic. The report anticipates that those market shares of internet traffic will only increase during 2012. When you couple that prediction with the fact that nearly 42% of all U.S. mobile subscribers now use smartphones, look for the internet traffic generated by mobile devices to grow considerably this year.
As the market grows, so then you can expect a hugely competitive war between the two major developers of smartphone platforms, Apple's iOS and Google's Android. The Google Android and Apple iOS smartphone platforms emerged as the leaders of the U.S. smartphone market in 2011, with Android just a few points shy of capturing half of the smartphone market and iOS accounting for nearly 30 percent of the market. In the EU5, Android saw similarly significant gains, unseating market leader Symbian in 3 out of the 5 European markets measured. See the graphs below to see how the market of mobile OS has changed not only in the past year but gradually over the past several years.
The growth of the mobile market wouldn't be nearly as lucrative and expansive if it weren't for the plethora of apps available to consumers. In 2011, both the U.S. and EU5 saw the growth in mobile app use exceed the growth in mobile browser use, leading to both markets seeing the same percentage of their mobile audience use both apps and browsers to access mobile media. Health ranked as the fastest-growing mobile media category in the U.S. in 2011, followed by Retail and other commerce-related categories such as Electronic Payments and Auction Sites.
In the report, comScore expects that this competition between Apple and Google will only intensify as 2012 rolls along. In conclusion, comScore says, "expect smartphone penetration to cross the 50 percent threshold in the U.S." because "operating systems are not only competing for first-time smartphone owners, but also for the loyalty of their current audience base."