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Growing smartphones ownership provides opportunity for marketers

Google Android was the leading smartphone platform between February and April, while Apple iOS moved up to second place, according to new data from comScore.

Data from comScore?s MobiLens service shows that the leading mobile trends impacting marketers during this period include growing smartphone ownership and the continuing evolution of the platform ecosystem for these devices. The number of U.S. consumers who owned a smartphone during the three-month period grew 13 percent for a total of 74.6 million.

?Marketers go where the people are,? said Brian Jurutka, senior vice president of mobile and telecom at comScore, Reston, VA. ?Well, the majority of eyeballs for people browsing on phones are on smartphones now and it?s only growing.

?Smartphones will soon make up more than 50 percent of new handsets purchased, and the owners spend more time browsing because they typically require data plans,? Mr. Jurutka said.

?SMS shouldn?t be forgotten since nearly every phone can send and receive SMS,? he said.

?However, smartphone owners use SMS as well. So overall, smartphone owners are heavier phone users and provide more opportunity for interaction with marketers.?

The Android angle
The data shows the operating system ecosystem continues to evolve at the top, with Android, iOS and Research In Motion jockeying for bigger roles. At the same time, the gap between the leaders and those at the bottom of the list continues to widen.

?Marketers have limited resources and need to concentrate on getting the most bang for their buck,? Mr. Jurutka said. ?iOS has the significant lead in the ecosystem, particularly when viewed in context of smartphones plus tablets and other connected devices like iPod touch.

?As Android continues to gain share of smartphones, however, expect more development resources to head that way,? he said.

The data shows that Android?s market share grew by 5.2 percentage points during the time period in question for a total market share of 36.4 percent. The iOS platform?s market share grew by 1.3 points for a total of 26 percent. RIM lost 4.7 percentage points of its market share, putting its total at 25.7 percent.

During the previous three-month period ended in January, RIM had the No. 2 spot and trailed slightly behind Android?s No. 1 spot with a 30.4 percent market share. Microsoft lost 1.3 percent of its market share during the period ended in April for a total 6.7 percent while Palm lost 0.6 percent of its market share for a total of 2.6 percent.

Samsung was the top OEM with 24.5 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers. It was followed by LG with a 20.9 percent share and Motorola with a 15.6 percent share.

Apple jumped to the No. 4  position with an 8.3 percent share, up 1.3 percentage points. RIM came in at No. 5 with an 8.2 percent share.

Samsung, Motorola and RIM all lost share during this period.

The data also shows continued growth in mobile content usage. For the three-month period ended in April, 68.8 percent of mobile users sent a text message to another phone, up 0.7 points.

The percentage of subscribers using a mobile browser grew 2.1 points for a total of 39.1 percent. The percentage downloading apps was up 2.4 points for a total of 37.8 percent.

There were similar gains in the percentage accessing a social networking site or blog, which was up 2.7 points for a total of 26.2 percent of mobile subscribers.

Playing games and listening to music also grew, with 26.2 percent of subscribers engaging in games and 18 percent listening to music.

For the three-month period ended in April, 234 million U.S. consumers ages 13 and older used mobile devices, according to comScore?s MobiLens service.

?Similar to online, content is moving to more engaging rich media and even video,? Mr. Jurutka said.

?Though video in particular is still a small segment, expect it to grow as speeds increase," he said. 

?Marketers will likely head down the same path since they?ll want to create robust interactions with customers and prospects.? 

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer