Why BlackBerry Overtaking iOS In Browser Usage Is Not Significant

The news just hit the wire that BlackBerry OS overtook Apple’s iOS in terms of mobile internet usage. People everywhere will make a big fuss over this, especially the Apple-haters and anti-Apple pundits. Expect Paul Thurrott to link to this same StatCounter article with some dick-ish proclamation of how Apple’s products are “boring” and watch Katherine Noyes use the news to justify her gender-inappropriately ballsy claims of Android being the more “compelling and powerful platform.”

The truth is, these statistics are incomplete. Worse, StatCounter is actually somewhat misleading with their messaging. This is how they describe themselves:

StatCounter Global Stats are based on aggregate data collected by StatCounter on a sample exceeding 15 billion page views per month collected from across the StatCounter network of more than three million websites. StatCounter, which provides free website traffic information, publishes worldwide internet usage trends via StatCounter Global Stats, a free online research tool.

Now, everyone who StatCounter caters to should know that the Internet is not the Web. StatCounter measures web page views, but the Internet is a hell of a lot more than that. Every native application that uses APIs to directly communicate over the Internet with a data service will not open up web pages that StatCounter tracks. If you launch Google Maps on your iPhone, StatCounter won’t register this. What it registers is if you open up mobileSafari on your iPhone (or the browser of similar mobile platforms, of course) and visit maps.google.com in it. Or at least, that would be the case if maps.google.com was part of the StatCounter Global Network, which I don’t think it is (but I have no information on this, so who knows). The point is, any time you end up using some native app on your iPhone to communicate with a web app or web service instead of visiting its site through your mobile browser, you’re stepping outside StatCounter’s reach.

Three million websites and 15 billion page views per month is a lot of data, and certainly a good representation of browsing behaviors and statistics. However, it has increasingly little bearing on mobile devices, especially with the iOS platform where native apps are used significantly more than the browser to accomplish an essentially web-driven task.

Native apps use the Internet a lot more than they use the Web, and StatCounter only keeps track of the latter. The huge disparity in native apps between iOS and competing devices should tell you what you really need to know, here: iOS users use apps for many things that non-iOS mobile users are forced to use the websites for.

So take that into consideration before you jump onboard the knee-jerk bandwagon and proclaim the untimely demise of Apple’s iOS platform. You may save yourself some embarrassment when, come 2011, the various companies involved in this market all release their quarterly results.

A closing note:
A better hyperlink to the original story would have been “BlackBerry OS overtook Apple’s iOS” but since I’m deflating the significance of that soundbite-equivalent bit of journalism, I’m deliberately not linking with those terms. This may also explain, for the more casual readers, why I used the words I used to link to the two pundits mentioned in the first paragraph.

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