Net Applications

Android's Web share down 13% since Nov.; Apple's is up 1%

February 1, 2013: 6:32 AM ET

Usage numbers contradict estimates of Samsung's smartphone and tablet sales

Data: Net Applications Mobile operating system share

Data: Net Applications' Feb. 1 report

FORTUNE -- According to a report issued Friday by Net Applications, the Web presence of Android devices peaked in November at 28% and has been drifting down ever since.

By contrast, Apple's (AAPL) iOS has climbed since October, after the company launched the iPhone 5 and the iPad mini.

That's quite a different story than the one being told by market research firms like IDC, which has Samsung's Android-based smartphones outselling the iPhone and Samsung's tablets rapidly catching up to Apple's iPad. "IDC says Android is the new king of tablet market share," was Thursday's headline on CNNMoney.

I was skeptical of IDC's tablet shipment numbers Thursday, given that of the major tablet manufacturers, only Apple actually releases unit sales data.

And I'm doubly skeptical today, given the trends shown in Net Applications' data above. Unlike IDC, which seems to pull numbers out of thin air, Net Applications is actually counting something: The browser data from 160 million users per month weighted geographically according to the number of users in each country. (StatCounter, a competing service, does not weigh its data geographically and gets very different results.)

How can Google's (GOOG) Android be the king of tablets and smartphones if more than 60% of Web users are on Apple devices and only 24.5% on Android?

Either a lot of Android owners are not using their devices to surf the Web -- which is certainly possible -- or someone's numbers are screwy.

UPDATE: A Strategy Analytics report that Apple in Q4 became the U.S.'s No. 1 vendor of mobile phones -- smart and dumb -- for the first time was getting a lot media play Friday morning. Given that Strategy Analytics' numbers -- like IDC's -- are coming out of some kind of black box, I'm not sure there's much here for Apple partisans to celebrate.

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