iOS still spanking Android in total web traffic despite Android’s leading market share


We’ve all seen the stats, Android is outgrowing iOS by a ridiculous number, something like for every 4 smartphones shipped, 3 of those are running Android (albeit, Gingerbread — but that’s neither here, nor there). More recently, a study by Gartner showed that Android tablets reached 44% of the market last quarter, just 11% under iPad’s share. There’s no question — there are a lot of Android devices out there.

So, can somebody please tell me why this new data from Chitika is showing that iOS web traffic is almost double that of Android’s? From May to November of this year, iOS tablets and smartphones accounted for 65% of total web traffic, where Android straggled behind at 35%. So, what gives?

To be fair, it’s almost a dead heat when comparing smartphone web traffic alone, which shows us that this new number involves mostly iOS users on their iPads. I guess the simple explanation would be that iOS users really like surfing the web on their tablets. Meanwhile, Android users are just… I don’t know, watching Netflix or something?

Another explanation is that the default view when surfing the web from an Android tablet is set to “desktop view,” which may have skewed those results a bit. As a man who has chosen to forgo Android tablets altogether, I’m curious. What kind of activities do you find yourself doing when on your tablet? Anyone ever crack that browser open for a good web surfing sesh?

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. If the web traffic takes into account web browsing, as well as the web access from apps like YouTube and all other apps that need an internet connection. That is shocking, but if it is just internet browsing, i can sort of except that. There is no point making excuses, it is what it is.

    1. I agree. Personally, I don’t browse at all in the true sense of the word. I remember URL’s of every 3 sites I visit daily. For the rest I use either apps or RSS. So yeah, I don’t browse, and even from my desktop computer my web-traffic is minimal. I’m fed up with Internet, I only read what I’m interested in.

  2. Its simple iOS owners use their devices, android users don’t. Let me explain. The market has been flooded with android devices, thus the market share lead. My mom has a phone and tablet. She doesn’t uses the internet on either device. I’m not sure she knows how or wants to.

  3. Most of what I do on my Nexus 10 is play games, watch you tube videos, twitter/facebook, and every once in a while I will browse the web. I have a desktop to do real web surfing with. The tablet is just for laid back time.

    1. Hmmmmm.. maybe that’s it then. Android users are power users who generally have laptops/computers to use for web surfing.

      iPad users are less tech-savvy, using their iPad as an actual laptop replacement (I have a friend like this). I honestly believe that really has to be the answer.

      1. Come on now Chris, call like them like you see them, iPad users are iDiots, not “less tech savvy”

        1. My grandma loves her iPad :c

        2. right what kinda idoit pays $500+ for the same thing android brings to everyone thats %100 better for $400

          1. An idiot with money. Or just an idiot… Because well an idiot will buy what ever for whatever motiv. Not saying this statement is tru.

      2. I don’t, because they are getting this data from ad impressions. This is likely incorrect tracking of user agents and ad blocking….something you can’t really do on iOS.

      3. It has been said time and time again that Apple has catered to the less tech-savvy crowd. It’s showing in how MacBooks and iMac’s are slowly growing in popularity and Windows based laptops are slightly declining. I’ve used both Windows and Mac OS and I wholeheartedly prefer Windows.

        As far as phones go, it’s really up in the air to how tech-savvy you have to be to choose between an iPhone and an Android phone. I just put a supervisor at work on a ZTE Merit, his first smartphone, and he is gets happier each day he learns something new about it, and this is an older gentleman.

      4. there are many potential variables – this could be one of them. all I can tell you is that I do my bit for the Android cause – I tend to use up my data allowance each month which is 3 Gigs, to go unlimited would cost an extra 3£ p/m.. which I can do without atm as I have my laptop for my main download source.

    2. My Android phone is a tool, not a web browser. I use it for email, streaming, chat, documentation, notes, pictures, communication, work related processes and testing. I have a computer/laptop for browsing. Also I agree with the browser comment. Most android users I know dont use the stock browser. However ALL Apple users I know use safari.

      1. Don’t iOS users have to use safari? I thought it was the only browser on iOS though I could be wrong…

  4. Apple probably installed a rouge app on them during one update that sucked up a ton of data. (I’m just kidding guys, chill). I still find it sorta hard to believe though.

  5. I’m a big fan of my Nexus 7 but most of the time would still rather browse the web on my laptop when I’m at home relaxing.

  6. I’ve just ordered a Nexus 7, and this peculiar stat really put me off. I’m an iPhone user and I browse the web a lot on that thing. Web browsing is probably the main thing I’ll use the N7 for, and I’m worried that somehow the experience will be substandard and I won’t end up using the device the way I really want. None of the reviews say it’s bad for browsing, but without laying down the cash I couldn’t really find out for myself.

    Guess I’ll find out soon.

    1. My N7 has completely replaced my laptop for RSS reading and couch surfing.

      Chrome syncs everything, open tabs and bookmarks, across ALL devices and computers. For that it’s awesome. Performance wise, Google has some work to do.

      Typing this on my N7.

  7. Give it sometimes? Most Android devices are still 2.x version and have small screen (~ inches screen)? My wife prefer by far using her desktop computer for surfing the internet.

  8. I pretty much use desktop mode all the time on Chrome. I dont know if that would make a difference though.

  9. Perhaps this shows the productivity of Android to give us the same Internet content as the iPhone, but with using less data.. Android does have a huge lead when it comes to sales, so this may be a reason.
    Another reason why Android could be falling behind in web traffic is because there are many cheap android devices that people use juts to talk/text. With an iPhone, all iPhones are the same, thus having the same capacity to perform Internet related activities… So iPhone users might use the internet more than Android because of this reason.

  10. maybe its because android users dont need the internet to enjoy there phones or maybe its casue iphone users have to spend more time sorting threw shitty apps to find good ones

  11. A lot of iOS web traffic is from iPads I think. Also as someone pointed out, many android users set their browser to desktop mode which may not count as access from android device.

  12. When I used an iPhone or an iPad, I did as much web browsing as I’ve done on my S3 and my G-Note 2. I use the same web-based apps to shop…like Amazon or eBay. I’m not sure what is driving those results, but they don’t make a lick of sense! Now…I HAVE noticed that a lot of people in my circle who have finally moved on from flip phones and feature phones have either low end Android or at best Galaxy S2s that are now going for cheap. These are people that i occasionally have to show simple things…like how to turn on or off screen rotation from the dropdown shade! So it may be true that low end users see Android as the smarter choice for their needs because of value. A low end user can pick up a lower end Android that they don’t intend to use for much web without the stigma of getting an “old” iPhone that would be comparable in cost.

  13. This could be a user agent mistake. In other words, which browser did Chitika track? Chrome, Firefox, Dolphin, Opera, or “Android Browser?”

    Also, when the stock browser gets skinned by Samsung or HTC, does this change the user agent and thus skew the stats?

    1. This was being discussed over on G+ a few days back. The user agent is likely the “culprit” because of the many options on Android. Not only are there multiple browsers to choose from but you can use them on desktop mode and even iPad/iPhone mode! Some folks tested how the usage registers and if you have the browser set to desktop mode, usage is registered as, let’s say “Chrome on Linux” instead of “Chrome on Android” despite it being used on an Android device. I know I use my browsers on my Prime on desktop mode, so they never register as being used on an Android device based on this information.

    2. Why do they have to be tracking the browsers? In Google Analytics you can look at OS types directly.

      1. Because the OS type returned is also controlled by the user agent setting. For example, when set to desktop Dolphin returns an OS type of Linux Desktop.

        1. Ahh, I should have known that. Makes sense now, thanks.

        2. So well over half of the highly technical and enlightened Android base decided to change their browser user agents? Right.

      2. When I checked the Chitika page they didn’t include details about what methods they use, unfortunately.

  14. Simple answer really. iOS users spend a lot of time Instagramming how awesome they are with their shiny Apple device. Android users have self confidence so they don’t need to constantly seek public reassurance on social media.

    1. idk i post every new rom and new feature i find lol… as for the apple kids that just simply have nothing new…

  15. I play games for the most part if i surf the web on the tablet i use skyfire desktop mode mobile sites suck

  16. Apple had huge dominance in tablets. Current market share for phones doesn’t consider this.

  17. maybe most of the android phones are used by people who dont have data connection or dont have internet access. or turned off all internet to save an hour of battery life.

  18. I use the browser on my nexus 7 quite a bit. It’s so convenient to start swiping (either with the 4.2 keyboard or a number of others) I seldom even turn on my home computer unless I need ADB or something like that, for messing with my phone.

  19. You can choose your transmitted user Agent on Android. My Android shows as Linux Desktop most of the time. On iOS you can’t. That’s probably it.

  20. most ppl i know and see have the iphone5

    1. same here… pretty much everyone, can’t say I blame them at least their flagship phone comes with LTE.

      1. Nice hit on the “lame” N4 LOL

      2. well i got the gnex which we can all youtube and see its a better phone than anything apple so i get 4glte!

    2. I’ve seen a total of two iPhone 5 in the wild. I see way more S3s Notes and various Droid models. And its not lack of inventory as one was from a guy that said he walked right in and got one.

  21. I used my Galaxy S3 for all my internet, and it was a lot. No movies, very little music. Now I use my Note 2. Love it! Can’t imagine having an Android and not using it. The larger screen is perfect and now I’m not looking for a tablet. If I needed a larger screen I have my PC or laptop, but haven’t yet.

  22. I have my user agent on desktop most of the time because I hate how limited a lot of “mobile” optimized sites are.

    1. I set my user agent to desktop all the time.

  23. I think there is a significant number of people who go to upgrade their feature phones “dumb phones” who don’t really want a smart phone, but due to lack of choices end up with one. And when this happens that smartphone is usually an android. I know several people who are in this category. They have an android phone and I ask them about it, they don’t even know what android is. Scary, but there’s more of them out there than you think.

    1. As someone who used to work at Best Buy Mobile, I’ve seen this a lot. Good point.

    2. Of all the theories I’ve heard, this one makes the most sense.

  24. What gives, is that you have no clue about distinguishing between “total user base” for a type of devices, and “sales for last quarter” for a type of devices.

    Android had a larger market share in phones for the “last quarter” ever since 2010, but only recently it managed to catch-up and surpass Apple in “user base”, where they have 500 million Android devices vs 400 million for iOS. But the last quarter market share shows 75% to 15% for Android vs iOS. Do you get the difference now?

    Android tablets may be almost equal to iPads in last quarter market share, but in total user base market share, there are like 4 times more iPads in the market than Android tablets, maybe more. And THAT’s why you get so much more traffic from iPads and iOS, because tablets are also a device where people browse much more than on a phone.

    From a web traffic point of view for devices it doesn’t matter if Android had 90% market share for the last 3 months. What matters is how many Android tablets vs iPads are IN THE MARKET RIGHT NOW? If there are a lot more iPads, what do you think is going to happen? Yeah, it will show iPads and iOS having more traffic.

    1. More bogus stats. Do u have any idea how many people buy ipads twice thrice?
      That was jobs whole scam get same person to buy another

      1. …and in your scenario, what happens to the old ones? Thrown aside and never used again?

        Hardly…they get handed down or sold and are thus, still in use and adding to the install base.

    2. Don’t see why this was down voted. Many have been confusing sales share with install base. However I don’t think that makes up for the difference in traffic. I simply think Android isn’t being properly detected.

  25. I’m usually doing things that iOS can’t do on my phone. :P

  26. How do all of the iPod touch devices skew this data?

  27. I have a hard time with this, not because I’m all android, but because shouldn’t there be a considerable spike when specific devices got released including the iPhone 5? There is no discernable change around the time it was released.

    1. right with all the tampons being shipped why isnt it higher… android ftw

  28. I believe it’s Apple cloud and sync. Plus Apple twits have money so they don’t need to worry about data

    1. To be fair, I have a few rich friends(go to an affluent school), and most use Androids, specifically the GSIII and GN. (While I’m stuck with a beaten down G1)

  29. anyone notice that both of the lines on the graph are EXACTLY the same, just android is upside down >.>

    1. Ya chitika just put some BS out to drive ad links
      I don’t trust any of these stat compilers.
      Most likely it is because of third party browsers in android that chitika doesn’t even know exist.

    2. That’s because it is assuming no other players. The total must add up to 100, Android = 100 – iOS and iOS = 100 – Android. Therefore every move up by x for one party means a move down by x for the other.

      1. Though you have a point, but we can’t forget the other OS’ out there such as blackberry and windows phones. Wouldn’t the other variables set it off? Even just a bit?

    3. Yeah, the mirroring of the two lines is indeed kind of fishy.

    4. Love how @hatboysam:disqus explains why and people continue to call BS.

    5. Seriously… The graph is only comparing the two OS’s. It is completely ignoring ANY and ALL other factors. They, by definition, MUST exactly mirror each other.

  30. a good number of apple users are older. which could be why web use it up. that is the primary online source for them. where as i am pretty confident that Android is a younger crowd. I know i rarely use web on android. I stick to using the apps for whatever i need. I then use laptop for web based stuff. just a though

  31. why have you chosen to forgo Android tablets altogether? not even a N10 or N7?

  32. I always have my browser set to desktop view. In addition, a number of browsers on Android allow me to change the “user agent”, so I can be sure to get the regular web site. Lastly, this study (like most of these) gets its results by studying ad traffic. Come on now: plenty of Android users (especially power users) will use ad blockers and firewalls to restrict what types of traffic are going to and from their devices.

    1. Adblock was only available to rooted users (until a few days ago) which account for a very small percentage of overall Android numbers.

      1. But third party browsers ie xscope dolphin have had ad blockers built in for over a year

      2. Chris, have you forgotten already about AdAway? About ad blocking in Dolphin? Come on now. Also, don’t forget about Adblock Plus for Firefox. That’s been out for over a year.

      3. But what about the desktop view changing the UA. Funny I figured you’d write an article about this soon and I’d plead with you to question these companies on how they actually detect Android besides UA string.

  33. isn’t siri a massive data hog?

  34. May be Apple products just data hogs

  35. I’d love to see a more detailed breakdown of Android installed-base statistics than this 3-to-1 ratio. I develop for Android, so I naturally take notice of what phones I see people using. I don’t see a 3:1 ratio. My anecdotal observation is probably more like 1:1 or maybe even 2:3 (favoring Apple). I’m in the US though…specifically in Huntington Beach, CA, so I can certainly see that accounting for some of this discrepancy.

    Assuming all this data is correct, my best guess is that this statistic heavily relies on iPads, which people are using as laptop-replacements. Much of Android’s 44% of tablet sales are likely 7″ devices, i.e., a ton of Kindle Fires and a good number of Nexus 7s.

    1. The answer is actually really more simple, because android devices do outsell iOS devices, this is web traffic specifically, not traffic from apps, or anything else, just web traffic. So all this means is people use their ios devices to browse via their web browser.

      I know I contribute to this, using pulse to read feeds, rather than going to websites, YouTube app, news 360, yes I use my browser on my tablet (am using it now), but I use far more data through other apps.

      1. Not only is it ONLY web traffic, but it doesn’t take into account the fact that the user agent on android often isn’t reported as Android at all.

        For example if you download Firefox and use it on your Android tablet, it’s reported to ad impressions as “Firefox on Linux”. Or if you switch Chrome into “Desktop Mode” as many people do, it reports as “Chrome on Linux”.

        Since Chitika only counts impressions that have “Android” in the user agent, their entire data set is completely meaningless.

    2. Really? Interesting. I also do mobile development and take note as well. And I’ve come to the point where I’m almost shocked to see an iPhone. This is in Houston taking public transit twice a day and working downtown at a fortune 500.

      1. yeah, see, hipsters don’t use public transportation. I think they’re still walking their fixies up and down the street and hanging out at Agora. you should expand your area of research to include critical mass which meets at market square park the last friday of every month, and hipster coffee houses like agora or double trouble.

  36. I tend to pick up my tablet over my laptop when I want to do some web surfing. I bet it’s that Desktop over Android setting in the browser that throws it all off.

  37. Statistical manipulation!

  38. This still has nothing to do with “more devices than the other”. This is just a clear indication on how iPhone users can do nothing else besides surf the web when they are bored of their apps. Myself having an Android device, I can customize the HELL out of my device if I am bored, instead of liking everyone ones photo on Facebook. Its either an app or internet. That’s it with that phone. With Android, Internet is not the top reason of having one, Its the user friendly tasks, yes I said that.

  39. “iOS users really like surfing the web on their tablets” That’s because that all their good for.

  40. Maybe they are only counting the stock Android browser.

  41. This report gives me brain farts.

  42. I probably only surf about 10-20 percent of the time on my phone. I mostly end up online from links in apps or Google now searches.

  43. The chart makes no sense. Market shares have changed radically, and Android is even closing in on parity in tablets. How can there be a fairly constant difference in web traffic. I call BS.

    1. It’s comparing percentages to percentages. If iOS has 10 users and 6 regularly browse, but Android has 1000 users and 300 regularly browse, then there are more Android users surfing with their devices. This also means that 60% of iOS users and 30% of Android users browse regularly.

      Do you call BS on a lot of high school level stuff like this?

      1. You sure about that? Looks like the numbers add up to 100 pretty consistently, which looks more like market share, which is what the article says….

        Guess I’m going to have to call BS again here.

        1. ‘Share of US and canadian iOS and Android traffic’ to be precise. That’s exactly what it says on the chart, and is exactly what I was attempting to explain.

          But whatever, call BS if you like. I’m done here.

  44. no surprise there. right now you can pretty much jump to android train without any data or any knowledge how to use other features than calling/texting. where as with iPhones you’ll most likely have to sign up for data contracts. android is big but the actual user base that uses it’s full features is still inferior to iOS numbers.

  45. Hmm, I do plenty of web browsing on my Samsung Droid Charge.

  46. A lot of browsers spoof the user agent of iOS, there’s been research articles about it and how bad it is, so I really wouldn’t put much stock in this

  47. This is why the networks are slow anyone on a letter network did it slow down with the release of the i5

  48. iOS = data hog and that is supposed to be a good thing?

  49. I browse a website maybe once a week on my android phone. Who uses their phone to browse websites? I use apps. Maybe iphone users are just stupid?

  50. Many iphones are corporate accounts and paid for by the company so there is not concern for data usage. Perhaps this has and effect

  51. Your article doesn’t mention the method used to collect data:
    “To quantify this study Chitika Insights conducted a user agent analysis on billions of ad impressions.”

  52. Does this include the bandwidth they use to upload their photos of their dinner?

  53. I usually use my Samsung ATIV 700T Windows 8 tablet as I have the power (i5) and screen size (11.6 “) of a full desktop in a tablet.

  54. 34% Difference is entirely children

  55. … always double check with other sources, but the trends are the same.

    North America: http://gs.statcounter.com/#mobile_os-na-weekly-201219-201248
    Europe: http://gs.statcounter.com/#mobile_os-eu-weekly-201219-201248
    World: http://gs.statcounter.com/#mobile_os-ww-weekly-201219-201248

    Chitika was always strange.

  56. Firefox shows up as Firefox running on linux and not on android and I wonder how many other browsers show as running on linux as well

  57. I tend to spend a lot of time in desktop mode since most sites dont have well formatted tablet or smartphone optimized sites. Its typically just a mobile (as in simple enough for a dumbphone) or regular sites and the regular sites work better. Not sure how this reports on the stats.

    Also, I don’t spend a LOT of time on the internet on my phone or tablet. Im not like half of the people i see around when I am driving, checking Facebook at every light (or between lights, moving at 50mph). My tablet I spend a lot of time in note taking apps, office apps and games. On the phone its the phone apps and/or living in the integrated google services like Mail, Calendar, G+, Chat, Voice, etc and not in the browser itself.

  58. Here is a blog I just co-wrote. Show some support on why Android is better – http://blog.waspit.me/the-ultimate-debate-iphone-vs-android/

  59. maybe its down to apple customers get bigger data allowances on their tarifs.

    I don’t understand your conclusion about surfing/netflix ? surfing uses MINIMAL data compared to streaming services like netflix.

  60. As a consumer, why is this important to me? If I was a business owner or website owner, I could see why this would be important. How does this affect consumers who are neither?

  61. I use my Prime quite frequently for web browsing while in bed (waking up or going to sleep), while on the crapper, and while watching TV on the couch. Extended browsing is always done on my computer however. But it is always set to desktop mode, so I’m sure that is skewing the numbers away from Android.

  62. @Gamercore:disqus , just curious: does “a man who has chosen to forgo Android tablets altogether” use an iPad, or are you in the who-needs-a-tablet-anyway camp?

  63. its all those justin beiber videos they watch LOL

  64. Well if they mean “browser” web traffic, that is because there is an app for every website people go to nowadays. Why go to the facebook website when you have the app. XDA? App for that. Reading phandroid? Pulse exist. I guess people on iOS don’t know that there’s an app for everything.

    That’s my guess at least. Even though I view phandroid on the browser anyways, but I view other blogs through Pulse. I sometimes view PKMN stuff, but I have the Pokedroid app. I just need it for Black 2 and White 2 data since Pokedroid HAD to be taken down. (Grr!! Nintendo)

  65. The IOS devices, esp. the Tablets are all premium devices, while the Android devices cover a much wider economic range, and likely the users have different budgets for network based data usage, which could account for much of the #’s cited.

  66. Thank you for it ! really interesting! It have been always interesting to read shuch news.

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