The long-prophesied age of mobile ads is upon us. But it's not Research In Motion or Motorola dominating the landscape -- it's Apple, which didn't even have a mobile device when pundits were proclaiming that mobile ads would one day drive millions in ad sales.
Millennial Media's July 2010 Mobile Mix report, which offers information on the latest mobile-device trends for connected devices, mobile manufacturers, operating systems, and apps, shows that Apple has maintained the lead in mobile ads since September 2009.
Apple ad requests increased 36 percent and iPad ad requests grew 327 percent month over month. In total, Apple gets 55 percent of mobile-ad hits, though Apple did lose one percentage point of market share in July. Google's Android operating system overtook RIM to hold the number-two spot. RIM maintains third place.
The Android Factor
Drilling down into those numbers demonstrates the growth of Android and the threat to Apple's dominance. Android ad requests grew 47 percent month over month. But since January, Android's growth has jumped 690 percent compared to only 15 percent growth for Apple's iOS. RIM ad requests increased 18 percent month over month, a 66 percent increase since January.
"What the data mean is that there are more Android devices and more Android users online. It's catching up in terms of mobile Internet usage. No surprise given the accelerating sales that Android is seeing across many devices and carriers," said Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence.
Android and Apple users are somewhat different demographically, Sterling noted, but their behavior is similar, so the data is consistent with what he would expect to see.
"Android, however, is not a 'single platform' like iOS," Sterling added. "It represents dozens of devices now across many carriers. But the larger point is that when people have a more user-friendly mobile Internet device, their behavior follows a certain predictable model that was first seen on the iPhone."
Spreading the Mobile Wealth
Other noteworthy mobile data points include Android's growth as an operating system. Android's OS became the second largest OS for the first time since Millennial Media started reporting the OS mix in August 2009.
And RIM has something to celebrate on the apps side of the mobile world. RIM apps, which now represent 11 percent of the market, experienced the largest growth month over month. Motorola can also brag. It moved into the top three in July's Top 20 Mobile Phones with a five percent impression share. The Motorola CLIQ Android device also entered into the top 20 for the first time.
"The fact that more devices are being launched by the different handset manufacturers and the fact that developers are choosing to develop on multiple platforms continues to show that where there is money to be made, developers will go there," said Steve McCord, head of product development at Millennial Media. "In addition, it shows that the larger the reach for any one particular application, the higher monetization growth opportunities that affords them."