UIEtips: Explaining the iOS and Android Mobile Browser Usage Disparity

Jared Spool

August 29th, 2012

In today’s UIEtips, we feature an article from mobile design expert, Jason Grisby. Using data from Akamai, Jason looks at the web traffic between Android and iOS browsers and ponders the differences in web browsing. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

I have a couple of theories on why Android users don’t browse on Wi-Fi as much as iOS users:

1. The UI for joining a Wi-Fi network on Android is easy to miss. iOS frequently prompts you asking if you would like to join a Wi-Fi network. The prompt to join the network takes up the screen and interrupts what you’re doing. In fact, it can be a tad annoying.

Android, on the other hand, puts the notification as a subtle indicator in the notification bar. This is easy to miss if you’re focused on other things or if you’re a new Android user—which by the way, many Android users are because the majority of first time smartphone buyers choose Android.

2. People at lower income levels are less likely to have access to Wi-Fi networks on a regular basis. I believe a lot of differences between iOS and Android can be attributed to income level differences between the users of the devices. Last year, Comscore published data showing that 81% of iPhone owners in the United States were above the median income level.

I’d love to see more recent data and be able to compare it to Android, but every time I’ve seen demographic data, even if it doesn’t explicitly address income levels, it seems to hint at the fact that Android users have lower household incomes than iOS users.

People at lower income levels are less likely to also own a computer and therefore less likely to have broadband at home. They are also less likely to work in an office setting with abundant broadband and Wi-Fi.

Read the full article, Explaining the iOS and Android Mobile Browser Usage Disparity.

Learn More from Jason

When it comes to mobile design, Jason Grisby is obsessed with it. That’s why we asked him to give a UIE Virtual Seminar on September 13, Mobile-first Responsive Design. Among many of the items Jason will cover, you’ll hear about which tools to use for mastering mobile first. Learn more about his seminar.

3 Responses to “UIEtips: Explaining the iOS and Android Mobile Browser Usage Disparity”

  1. Calum Says:

    Isn’t one of the reasons simply that there are also an enormous number of iPads out there compared to the number of Android tablets, which also identify themselves as running ‘Mobile Safari’ and ‘Android WebKit’ respectively? So the iPhone v Android ‘smartphone subscriber’ figures that Gruber uses to indicate the supposed disparity presumably aren’t really a true picture of the ownership/usage numbers for iOS v Android devices overall.

  2. SusanM Says:

    Here’s another contributing factor to low WiFi browsing rates on Andriod phones. The already abysmal battery life for my Andriod phone is halved when I have WiFi turned on. As a result, I turn it of to conserve battery life and forget to turn it on. I’m sure I’m not alone.

  3. @jakubik Says:

    Hi, perhaps a silly one, but the numbers only talk about iOS/Android browsers, so that makes me think how different device types fare in Akamai’s data? Could the iOS Wifi dominance be given by WiFi-only iPads? (i.e. majority of iPads sold)

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