iPhone Wi-Fi Use Exceeds That Of Android: comScore
April 4, 2012

iPhone Wi-Fi Use Exceeds That Of Android: comScore

New data from comScore shows that 71 percent of all U.S. iPhones connect to the Internet through both Wi-Fi and mobile networks, while just 32 percent of Android smartphones in the U.S. use both types of networks.

The ComScore data revealed similar trends in Britain, where 87 percent of iPhones used both mobile and Wi-Fi networks for Internet access, compared with 57% of Android phones.

“As bandwidth usage increases and the spectrum becomes more scarce, operators, OEMs, and others in the mobile ecosystem should understand the different dynamics between the use of mobile and Wi-Fi networks to develop strategies to optimize resources and provide their customers with continued high-quality network service,” said Serge Matta, comScore President of Operator and Mobile Solutions.

Both 3G and 4G mobile networks provide high wireless data speeds over a broad area, but are dwarfed by the speed offered by Wi-Fi.  However, Wi-Fi´s weakness is its limited footprint, which requires users keep to small, defined areas.

“With the rise in adoption of smartphones, tablets, and other connected devices, network operators have seen a surge in mobile web activity and face new challenges in keeping up with data demands while maintaining their quality of service,” Matta said.

ComScore found that U.S. smartphones using the AT&T network were more likely to use Wi-Fi than those using the networks of other major wireless network operators.  This is likely due to AT&T having both a greater iPhone market share and the largest Wi-Fi hotspot network in America, comScore said.

In the U.K., smartphones using the Vodafone, Telefonica and Orange networks were more likely to use Wi-Fi than those using other British networks.

“The difference in mobile and Wi-Fi network usage across the U.S. and U.K. suggests that there are a few factors at play affecting Wi-Fi utilization rates,” said Matta.

“In the U.K., the scarcity of unlimited data plans and higher incidence of smartphone pre-paid contracts with a pay-as-you-go data model likely contributes to data offloading among users wanting to economize their mobile usage.”

“In addition, the current lack of high-speed data networks in the U.K. might also lead users to seek out higher bandwidth capacity on Wi-Fi networks. In the U.S., the increased availability of LTE, 4G and other high-speed data networks currently make it less necessary for smartphone users to offload, but it´s also possible that the diminishing availability of unlimited cellular data plans will eventually push more usage to Wi-Fi.”

Separately, ComScore released on Tuesday new figures for the U.S. mobile phone industry for the three-month period ending February 2012.

The data showed that more than 104 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones during that time, a 14-percentage point increase from the three-month period ending in November 2011.  Samsung was the top handset manufacturer overall, with 25.6 percent market share, comScore said.

Android devices dominated the market share for smartphone platforms, taking the top position with 50.1 percent of the market. This was followed by Apple at 30.2 percent, RIM at 13.4 percent, Microsoft at 3.9 percent and Symbian at 1.5 percent.  These figures were little changed from the three-month period ending November 2011, with Android and Apple showing a 3.2 percent and 1.5 percent increase, respectively, and RIM and Microsoft showing a 3.2 percent and 1.3 percent decrease, respectively.  Symbian´s market share was unchanged.

Compared with the same three-month period in 2011, Android´s share of the smartphone platform market increased 17 percentage points, while Apple´s grew 5 percentage points.

In February, 74.8 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers used text messaging on their mobile device, up 2.2 percentage points, comScore said.  Meanwhile, downloaded applications were used by 49.5 percent of subscribers (a 4.6 percentage point increase), while browsers were used by 49.2 percent (a 4.8 percentage point increase).  Accessing of blogs or social networking sites grew 3.1 percentage points to 36.1 percent of mobile subscribers.

The data also showed that 32.3 percent of the mobile audience used their mobile device for games (up 2.6 percentage points), while 24.8 percent listened to music on their phones (up 3.1 percentage points).

The figures were based on a survey of more than 30,000 U.S. mobile subscribers, comScore said.