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Apple, Google and Mobile Browsing

January 4, 2012

Another article caught my eye recently. This one, “Apple Tops Google in an Unexpected Way,” like other recent articles, discusses Google. But instead of discussing Google’s relationship with Facebook in the marketplace, Louis Bedigian emphasizes the fact that Apple is out-performing Google when it comes to mobile browsing.

Bedigian opens his article by telling us:

Just last week we were reminded that Google‘s (NASDAQ: GOOG) strategy for smartphones – which includes licensing its mobile OS, Android, to everyone who wants it – is still very effective. The company is beating Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) by commanding nearly 47% of the market. While Apple is hugely successful in a multitude of areas, it currently holds just 28.7% of the smartphone market.
However, NetMarketShare reports (via TechCrunch) that the Mac maker is leading Google in one impressive – some might even say unexpected – way: mobile Web browsing.

That’s right, when consumers decide to surf the Web while on the go, they choose to use an iOS device. This, according to NetMarketShare, has allowed Apple to score as much as 61% of the mobile browsing market in October 2011 (up from 46.56% in February). Apple dropped somewhat in November and December but still managed to close the year with 52% of the mobile browsing market.

[as always, the italics are added by me to draw out the quotations from the source post or article]

This is an interesting aspect of the marketplace that I hadn’t previously considered. Bedigian notes that both iPhones and iPads are meaningfully dominating the market in this area. This is a complex topic, and the author covers it fairly thoroughly. His conclusion is also very interesting:

AT&T and Verizon have gotten away with their ridiculous monthly fees because they know that consumers would have a hard time walking away from the mobile Web (or e-mail, for that matter). Have you ever tried to send an e-mail using a cheap Android phone? It is a sluggish nightmare. My iPod Touch is more than four years old and it still trumps all but the most expensive Android phones.
With all of that in mind, it actually isn’t that surprising to learn that Apple leads the pack of Web browsing.

But no matter who comes out on top, Google still wins. When we want to search for something, we still go to Google’s search engine. And on the Windows/Mac OS side of the spectrum, more and more consumers arechoosing Chrome over Firefox. Thus, the Android maker can sit back and allow Apple to maintain its lead in Web browsing – just as long as Google is the site consumers most frequently visit.

Now, if you’ve read the recent Notes on the Google vs. Facebook posts, also on Forbes, then you would know that Google may not be able to sit back and collect income based on its search engine lead. I recommend this series of articles; take a look.

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