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Early Data Proves Droid Is Next Big Mobile Platform

For one of the few times in memory, the industry hype - in this case, surrounding Android smartphones - appears to have been warranted. In just two months, Android has emerged as the second most popular platform used to access InformationWeek's mobile web site, pushing aside BlackBerry and taking a meaningful bite out of Apple's iPhone.
For one of the few times in memory, the industry hype - in this case, surrounding Android smartphones - appears to have been warranted. In just two months, Android has emerged as the second most popular platform used to access InformationWeek's mobile web site, pushing aside BlackBerry and taking a meaningful bite out of Apple's iPhone.In November, Android accounted for 8% of mobile page views at our site, vs. 59% for Apple and 17% for Blackberry. In December, the numbers were shaken up considerably: Apple 51%; Android 24%; Blackberry 8%. So far this month, it's Apple jumping back above 60%, Android above 20% and RIM hovering below 10%.

To varying degrees, the trends are holding up across other sites in our network as well, but those sites don't have the same level of visitor activity as mobile.informationweek.com so the numbers above are the strongest indicator we have of Droid's impact.

Perhaps more important than this granular breakdown is that for web site operators, application developers and others in the mobile ecosystem, the Droid appears poised to create a surge in mobile activity, as it has in our business. We saw a spike in usage of our mobile sites in December, when Droid activity truly took off. Many Droid users represent new visitors and new page views for everyone with a mobile web presence.

This activity dovetails with aggressive predictions for the continued growth of mobile as posited last fall by Mary Meeker at Web 2.0.

Android appears to be making what had been a two-horse race in smartphones into a three-horse contest, with the previous number 2, Research in Motion, being pushed back to third place. The RIM Blackberry's sub-par Web browsing experience is clearly a factor in that.

For enterprise IT, the Droid raises a number of issues. If the surge in activity continues - and Google's own Droid phone will only fan the flames - this is a platform that IT managers will be required, willingly or unwillingly, to address in the near term.

While the iphone isn't yet fully accepted in corporate IT, now there's a third platform in the mix. What choices will your company make?

In a recent meeting with a major mobile vendor, a company executive referred to mobile as "the first screen" - meaning it's now the primary way that users are accessing the Web. I think that statement may be a bit ahead of reality, but it certainly appears likely when I peer into the future. Do you agree? Is your company testing, preparing for or embracing Android phones?

(As an aside, all this mobile activity is taking place at brand new, totally overhauled versions of our mobile web presence at mobile.informationweek.com, mobile.darkreading.com and mobile.networkcomputing.com. Please check these sites out and send me any feedback on how to make them better).

Follow me on Twitter: (@tasmith369).

Tom Smith is vice president, Web analytics for TechWeb.

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