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Smartphones now have one-third of market share globally, report says

March 24, 2009 |  5:00 am
Statue
Even this statue could be using a smartphone. Credit: Matthew J. Stinson via Flickr.

Smartphones are becoming more and more dominant in the global handset market. They now make up one-third of all phones accessing the mobile Internet, compared with 26% six months ago, according to a report released today by mobile advertising company AdMob.

AdMob, which serves ads for 6,000 websites and 1,000 applications globally, counts every time an ad is requested on a device and uses those numbers to determine who is using what phones. It's not the perfect system; people with smartphones are more likely to be requesting ads because their devices are, by and large, better at surfing the Web and sending and receiving data. But it's as good a system as any, since carriers won't release such figures.

AdMob's research found that Apple's iPhone has captured 33% of the smartphone market globally and 50% of smartphone traffic in the United States.

The top 5 smartphones in the U.S. are the iPhone, the Blackberry Curve, the Blackberry Pearl, the Palm Centro and the HTC Dream (aka the G1), in that order. Those phones generated 77% of mobile traffic in February, according to AdMob. Google's Android operating platform, which debuted just three months prior, showed impressive growth by capturing 5% of the smartphone market with the G1.

But its manufacturer, HTC, hasn't received a significant boost. Nokia was still ...

... the top device maker in February, with 30% of the market, compared with Apple's 18% and Samsung's 10%. HTC's share was only 1.6%, according to AdMob. Verizon's Blackberry Storm has also gained significant market share since its debut in November. Around 8% of Research In Motion models are Storms, according to AdMob.

You may be wondering why it matters to you what other people are buying.

If you like apps, you should care. The most popular phones and operating systems will likely have the most developers working on apps for them. That means if you have an iPhone (and lots of people do), developers will be salivating to develop fart apps and mapping apps and spelling apps for your phone. But if you have a phone on a new operating system that hasn’t yet proven itself, developers may shy away until the device and its operating system are proven to be a success.

“You’re going to take a bet as a developer on your platform, because right now, they’re all sandboxes,” said Will Jessup, founder of Citrusbyte, a Web developer company. “The new guys launch with an app store, that’s a big risk for developers. If it tanks, you’ve spent a lot of money.”

-- Alana Semuels

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