The diverse range of devices being used by consumers to access the Web, globally, is creating both risk and opportunity for mobile marketers, according to the Netbiscuits Web Trends report for the third quarter of 2014.
Based on data from Netbiscuits Mobile Analytics, with an average sample of almost 1 billion page impressions per month, the report captured more than 5,000 unique devices, up 23 percent on the previous quarter.
In a clear sign of further mobile fragmentation, the top five mobile devices being used represented 39 percent of all traffic, falling from 46 percent in the second quarter, with an influx of new vendors to the list.
Android continues to wage war on iOS in the run up to Christmas, accounting for 38 percent of total global tablet traffic, up 6 percent on the previous quarter.
Tablet sales for Android are being driven by high volume, low cost devices, and the report anticipates significant growth for Android over the Christmas period, predicting that Android will overtake iOS as the leading operating system in the base of tablets by end of March 2015, when it will reach 51 percent of the base of devices.
In a recent global survey of 6,000 consumers, Netbiscuits found that of those planning to purchase a new device for Christmas 2014, a whopping 88 percent said they would opt for Android devices.
The company also predicts further growth over the Christmas period, fuelled by cheaper entry-level devices and specialist devices.
In terms of tablet traffic, Android is already beyond 50 percent of total tablet traffic in 89 of 219 countries and territories tracked, including many in emerging Asia (such as Thailand and Malaysia) and Latin America.
Its share of tablet traffic was biggest in emerging Asia and in Central and South America, at 59 percent and 49 percent. In the United States, Android accounts for 39 percent.
However, the Apple iPhone 5S is the world’s most used device, with 13 percent of all traffic, while phablets--smartphones with screens over 5 and up to 7 inches--have doubled their overall share within smartphone traffic in the last six months.
The phablet category represented 7 percent of all traffic at the end of April 2014, rising to 14 percent by the end of October, and the report predicts this category will account for a quarter of all web traffic by April next year.
The uptake of phablets has been greatest in markets where the device is being used as a primary access point for the Internet, and the report noted this is especially true in Asia, as revealed by a recent Google survey and is reflected in Netbiscuits traffic.
The largest phablet traffic shares are found in South Korea (49 percent), China (25 percent), India (23 percent), Indonesia (22 percent), Saudi Arabia (22 percent) and the United Arab Emirates (21 percent).
"We expects sales of phablets to continue to grow–as more users in the base switch to the larger phablet devices, interest will grow amongst those who currently have smaller handsets," Dan Weisbeck, CEO of Netbiscuits, told eWEEK. "Especially because the Web looks fantastic on the larger screens–and it shows that more and more people really are using their mobile devices as their primary Web access device."
Weisbeck noted it also means that Apple have launched the iPhone 6 Plus at exactly the right time.
"Phablets will cannibalize potential tablet sales, so it makes sense for Apple to have waited it out for some time before pursuing this market segment," he said. "But it means they also now have an answer for the customers who had been eyeing up larger screened Android devices."