Quantcast's market research shows iOS devices to be plunging in market share, while Android is soaring upward.  (Source: Quantcast)
But Apple still has nearly twice the amount of traffic as Android

A new study from market research firm Quantcast offers some interesting insight into the state of the smartphone market.  The study looks at trends in North American mobile internet use and how Apple's iOS (the iPhone, iPad), Android, RIM OS (Blackberry), and "Other" (Symbian, Windows Mobile 6.5, Palm's webOS, etc.) are stacking up.

The good news for Android is that the study shows its use to be soaring, while Apple's is dipping.  Android surged from approximately 10 percent in November 2009 to 25 percent in August 2010.  Apple's iOS, meanwhile, has fallen from a peak of approximately 68 percent in October 2009 to around 56 percent, at present.

The bad news for Android is that the study still shows the iOS devices appear to beat out Android ones in terms of traffic market share.  That may seem confusing to some, given that market researchers Canalys and the NPD Group both said that Android passed the iPhone in U.S. market share.

The cause of the incongruity is likely the iPad.  The iPad is selling over 2.3 million units a month.  Most users with iPads access the internet regularly either via Wi-Fi, or via built-in 3G modem (if their unit has one).  Android, by contrast, only has one tablet or mobile-internet-device available at present in North America -- the respectively low-volume Dell Streak.

Secondly, the numbers are for 
all of North America, so it's possible that Canadian iPhone adoption versus Canadian Android adoption is skewing the numbers from the U.S. market share.  Finally, there's also the possibility that iPhone/iPad users simply use the mobile internet more heavily than Android users.  That may be a reasonable hypothesis given that past market research has shown iPhone customers to be among the heaviest users of smartphone data. (Of course other studies shown Android customers to be pretty heavy users, as well.)

Quantcast's homepage offers the heady claim that its analytics cover all U.S. internet users, stating, "Right now, Quantcast engages all 220 million U.S. internet users, providing detailed audience profiles for the advertising marketplace to learn more about what consumers are doing online."

Like most market research studies, there's always questions of its accuracy, and there's scores of conclusions that can be drawn from it.  At the end the day, though, the Quantcast study's most important conclusion is that Apple's products are dropping in use while Android ones are steadily advancing in use.

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad

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