Apple's iPhone isn't only gaining fast on the company's U.S. turf, but sweeping across the international market at an amazing pace, according to the monthly Mobile Metrics report from mobile advertising network AdMob on Friday. The application-rich and user-friendly handset gained an astonishing 350 percent in market share in Japan this year and 300 percent in France.
While growth in North America was considerably slower at around 100 percent, AdMob, a division of Google, said that was likely because of a larger existing user base at the start of the year.
"This really shows the iPhone is not just a U.S. phenomenon," said Michael Gartenberg, a vice president at Interpret. "Apple has been doing a really good job getting into other markets beyond the core U.S."
After Japan and France, the fastest growing market for Apple was Australia, followed by China, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and the U.K.
What's most surprising about the statistics, Gartenberg said, is Apple's success in markets that aren't necessarily beholden to U.S. technology.
"They are catching on in places already considered sophisticated," he said. "Europe and Asia are way ahead of us. Apple was able to penetrate those markets because of the cachet of the device. They have redefined the mobile user experience."
The report's data is culled from billions of clicks on web ads managed by AdMob, which enables the company to analyze information from mobile devices.
The company said that while the United States remains by far the largest Apple market, half the registered ad clicks from iPhone and iPod touch devices were from abroad, up from 39 percent in January.
At the same time, half of the American users detected by AdMob were using iPhones or Wi-Fi-enabled iPod touch devices. But can Apple sustain that pace?
"The velocity of mobile is the real factor here," said Gartenberg. "Three years ago at this time, we wouldn't be discussing Apple. We'd be talking about RIM or Microsoft. The two most important companies for 2010 weren't even present in the mobile arena."
The pressure is on Apple, says Gartenberg, "to continue to innovate and drive their platform and devices forward. They are typically strong as we see new iPhone models. We saw a big focus this year on applications and third-party functionality. We'll have to wait and see what Apple has in store for us in 2010."
The AdMob report also found rising use of Google's Android mobile operating system, from less than 100 million requests in January to close to 800 million in November, and from 20 percent of traffic in October to 27 percent in November, a result of new Android devices.
Motorola's Android-powered Droid led the pack with 22 percent of usage, while the HTC Magic was a close second with 21 percent, followed by the HTC Hero with nine percent. Americans accounted for 88 percent of Android users.