To get a sense of what's happening in the world of smartphones, it's not always about sales and shipments. Usage - particularly mobile web usage - is a key metric, AdMob today released fourth quarter data traffic numbers and, yes, Apple continues to lead. But Android, which only had 1 percent of the traffic a year ago, now has 16 percent of the traffic.
Yes, I realize that when something is new and starting fresh, even the smallest gains can look like big growth. Still, Android made a strong showing in 2009 and now has a broader portfolio of carriers and devices. The Nexus One for T-Mobile is only the latest in a few high-profile Android launches, such as Motorola's Cliq and Motorola Droid. As the lineup continues to diversify across carriers and manufacturers, more growth is expected.
That's not to say that Apple can't and isn't maintaining its lead in this smartphone report. While AdMob usually counts traffic on the iPod Touch, which also runs the iPhone OS, it doesn't do so in this report, which solely tracks smartphone usage.
With that said, the iPhone accounts for more than half the data traffic in Europe and the America. Globally, it accounts for just more than half (51 percent). By comparison, Android registered 27 percent in North America and 8 percent in Western Europe, compared to Apple's 54 percent and 78 percent, respectively.
Interestingly enough, one of Apple's weak spots is Asia, where it accounts for only 27 percent of the traffic, second to Symbian. Android is barely a speck on a bar chart - and now that Google has delayed its launch of Android in China, there's even more uncertainty there.