Android, RIM Gain, Smartphone Web Traffic Soars

Smartphones now account for one-third of the mobile Internet traffic worldwide, up from 26 percent six months ago, with the Apple iPhone leading the way, according to a report released today by the mobile ad company AdMob.

The report, which found the iPhone responsible for 33 percent of smartphone traffic worldwide and 50 percent stateside, is based on AdMob’s tracking of ads it serves ads for 6,000 Web sites and 1,000 applications globally. The company’s ad server tracks every time an ad is requested on a device and uses the data to determine what phones and mobile operating systems are the most popular.

Following Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone, the top mobile traffic producers worldwide are the Nokia N70, BlackBerry 8300, Nokia N80, and Nokia N73, AdMob found.

In the U.S., the iPhone is followed by Research in Motion’s (RIM) BlackBerry Curve, BlackBerry Pearl, Palm Centro, and HTC Dream (also known as the Android-based T-Mobile G1). Combined, the devices accounted for 77 percent of mobile traffic in February, according to AdMob’s February Metrics Report.

The news comes at a time when the smartphone market is heating up, with sales pegged to grow, albeit at a slower rate, over the next five years.

The real success story here, though, may be that Google’s mobile open source platform Android rose to account for 5 percent of all U.S. traffic within just three months after launching with HTC’s T-Mobile G1.

“Capturing 5 percent of the smartphone market in three months is pretty impressive, and it’s the number one device on T-Mobile,” Nicole Leverich, a spokeswoman for AdMob, told “And when we look at those trends, it’s similar to what we saw with the iPhone, so based on that, Android had a lot of potential as more devices enter the market this year.”

A slew of highly anticipated Android devices are slated to enter the market in 2009, along with Palm’s closely watched Pre smartphone — all of which are aiming to grab market share away from the iPhone.

Meanwhile, hardware makers such as Acer are scrambling to cash in on the bullish smartphone market by entering the fray, while industry watchers speculate that Dell and others will follow.

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) is also seeing a jockeying of position even among its own offerings. AdMob found that the company’s BlackBerry Curve has overtaken the Pearl as the No. 1 RIM device, and that the BlackBerry Storm is the No. 1 device on Verizon.

Yet the newer Storm still lost out overall in traffic compared to the Curve and Pearl, both older models — the Curve claimed 9 percent, while the Pearl accounted for almost 7 percent of mobile Internet traffic. The Storm, meanwhile, delivered just about 2 percent.

While a number of handset vendors are counting on new and upcoming models to woo new customers and carrier partners, they’re also following the success of Apple’s App Store for the iPhone by planning their own mobile marketplaces for downloadable applications.

But not everyone may find app stores so rewarding, AdMob said.

Leverich told that among the vendors following Apple into mobile stores, RIM is among the better positioned — particularly compared to Microsoft’s Marketplace for Mobile, which is slated to open at the end of the year.

AdMob said it saw 97 percent of BlackBerry requests during February coming from the company’s operating system version 4.2 or higher, Leverich said — which means these devices will be able to access BlackBerry App World when it goes live.

“Windows Mobile has a significant percentage of their user base running older versions of the OS, so they won’t be able to access Microsoft’s apps if they go live at the end of the year,” she added.

That’s grim news for Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), since AdMob’s rankings may signal which platforms third-party developers ultimately adopt, since they generally hesitate to invest in creating apps for mobile operating systems that have yet to prove themselves to be widely adopted and successful, Leverich said.

“The app store trend is going to be interesting to watch because RIM, with 97 percent access potential, that’s huge penetration, which may make it more of a draw for developers,” she said. “An app store is only as good as the applications in it, and developers will choose to put time and energy into the stores with the highest number of consumers accessing them.”

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