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Doctors Favor iPhone, iPad Over Android

Apple devices dominate the medical field, but Android doubled its market share, according to a survey of 550,000-plus subscribers to Bulletin Healthcare.

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Bulletin Healthcare, a medical news service, examined the reading habits of its 550,000-plus subscribers and found that the vast majority of healthcare professionals are using Apple's iOS-based devices to consume its daily email briefings. Android came in a distant second. Bulletin Healthcare collected its data over a nine-month period between June 1, 2010 and Feb. 28, 2011.

Bulletin Healthcare reported that during the test period, use of mobile devices to access its content swelled by 45%. It concludes that nearly 30% of healthcare professionals are using mobile devices for content consumption, with 70% sticking to desktop computers.

"Combined, the iPhone and iPad grabbed more than 90% share of use in February, while Android saw only 6% use, and other platforms like RIM and Palm barely registered," said Bill Mulderry, president of Bulletin Healthcare, in a statement.

That doesn't mean that Apple's hold on the medical field is absolute. In fact, iPhone use by medical professionals fell from 86% to 79% and use of Android devices double its market share during the test period. iPad use jumped from 8% to 14% during the test period.

"Despite Apple's longer tenure in the marketplace, we were surprised by the wide margin between Apple devices and others," said Mulderry.

It is worth noting that this doesn't reflect trends in the wider consumer market. Nielsen recently reported that Android's share of the U.S. smartphone market has surpassed Apple and RIM's shares. Android owns 48% of the market, while iOS has 31%, and BlackBerry OS has 18%.

Perhaps the most compelling part of the story, however, is the breakdown of mobile use by different medical specialties.

"We assumed that specialty-based segments of the medical community might differ in their media habits and use mobile devices to varying degrees," said Mike Donatello, vice president of research at Bulletin Healthcare parent company Bulletin News. "Still, we were surprised to find a threefold range in mobile-device use, between emergency physicians and physician assistants on the high end, and clinical pathologists on the low end."

Bulletin's data shows that 41% of physician assistants and 40% of emergency room physicians are using mobile tech day in and day out. Conversely, only 20% of oncologists and 16% of clinical pathologists are using mobile technology. The rest of the specialist fields hover between 24% and 31%.

"The analysis suggests a number of opportunities for further research on the value of mobile information to medical professionals," said Donatello. "We hope to leverage Bulletin Healthcare's unique relationship with this commanding audience to provide insight of value to both providers and the businesses that serve the medical market."

What will be interesting to watch over the next nine to 12 months is how newer platforms--such as Android 3.0 Honeycomb and RIM's PlayBook OS--perform in the market. Android 3.0 Honeycomb is off to a decidedly slow start and needs more support from developers to fully get off the ground.

The BlackBerry PlayBook, which goes on sale April 19, has earned less-than-favorable early reviews, but many mobile professionals (especially BlackBerry users) are likely to give it a shot.

It remains to be seen whether either of these platforms can carve out a meaningful presence in the medical field (and the greater enterprise market) given Apple's dominant position.

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