Tag: 2009

Do you need a smartphone?

In the rush to the mobile computing era, what is often lost by advocates of this technology are the actual needs of the modern mobile consumer. Do most users need to have a handheld computer with them at all times? Is that what they desire? What does the market say?

In March 2009, 23% of mobile phone sales in the US were smartphones. Yet this is where all the energy of tech writers and analysts is focused. What about the 77% of the market that uses what would be considered dumb-phones? Is there nothing interesting going on in this market?

Smartphone market share is growing, and quickly. But, if you step back and ask yourself what you want from your phone, your decision to buy a smartphone may start to slip a bit.

Go through a checklist of must haves before making a phone decision.

  • Do you need to check your email all the time?
  • Do you need access to social-networking sites?
  • Do you need access to your calendar?
  • Do you crave shiny new apps that entertain you?
  • Will this device be a single mobile computing/communication/entertainment device?
  • Do you need to make calls?
  • Do you need to take pictures?
  • Do you need to send SMS messages?

Advocates of smartphones will tell me that it is the fastest growing market share in the mobile phone market. Great.

But does the latest and greatest smartphone serve the needs that I have (or you have, or your mom has, or your sister has) for mobile communication?

I am an advocate for smartphones. I have one and I use it. I find that it serves the needs I have everyday. But I am not a phone-user. I am a data-user and a messaging-user. I have a massive phone plan, but unless I am travelling, I make very few calls (more due to my personality than anything, I suppose).

So I ask readers: do you carry more than one phone? Do you have a smartphone and a standard mobile phone? And if you do, why?

Is your smartphone a ball and chain for work, and when you aren’t working, you carry something that works for you? Do you have one plan for data and one for calling or messaging?

And if you have had a smartphone, have you found it a good thing? Or have you wished you could go back to something simpler?

Browser Wars: July was not a month for revolutions

Once again it is time to analyze browser usage in the US for the last month. July saw the appearance of Firefox 3.5, which has replicated the pattern seen with Internet Explorer 8, where it supplants the previous version slowly and linearly as people get around to upgrading.

Can MSIE 8 overtake MSIE 7 in August? How much will Firefox 3.5 usage grow in August and will it replace FF 3.0 as the dominant version in the Firefox family?


As with previous analyses, Internet Explorer 6 retains its iron grip on the corporate, custom Web application market. The question is not when, but if, this browser will actually fade away. It is unlikely that Internet Explorer 6 will disappear until Windows 2000 and Windows XP percentages are in serious decline.

This points to a larger concern that organizations will have to face within the next 18 months: What do they do when the Windows 2000 lifecycle terminates in July 2010 and as Windows XP sees fewer updates moving toward lifecycle retirement in 2014? [See the Microsoft LifeCycle information here]

Hiding from the inevitable just makes changes that much more dramatic and difficult.

It is not likely that the patterns in the StatCounter data will change until the summer vacation season is over in the US, and students bring their shiny new computers online at the start of the school year.

StatCounter Browser Stats – March 1-24 2009

Using the visitor trending data collected and shared by StatCounter, I have undertaken a general analysis of browser distribution by global region. These metrics are collected using the embedded tags that StatCounter customers embed on their site to collect visitor metrics for their own use.

US data shows that MSIE 7.0 is in a dominant position, with Firefox 3.0 in the 25% range of market share. This trend extends into the North American data, which is heavily influenced by the US trend.

MSIE 8.0, still reports a lower distribution than Firefox 2.0. This data is most likely based on the usage of MSIE 8.0 RC1 version, as MSIE 8.0 was only released in GA last week. It is highly probable that these stats will change in the very near future with the release of MSIE 8.0 to Windows Update.


In the EU, where fear and loathing of Microsoft runs deep and true, Firefox 3.0 is approaching parity with MSIE 7.0. Also, the perennially favoured native son Opera makes a very strong showing with their 9.6 release.


Asia is a Web designers nightmare, with MSIE 6.0 continuing to be the most reported browser. This is concerning, not simply for design reasons, but for web compliance reasons. Effectively Asia has throttled Web development to an old warhorse, but to such a degree that there must be some overriding advantage to using this browser.


As an example, the statistical comparison of four Asia nations is broken out below. We’ll start with Japan where MSIE 7.0 has a clear lead in the statistics.


However, when China (People’s Republic), India, and South Korea are added into the analysis, the pull towards MSIE 6.0 is massive.


This trend needs to be studied in greater detail in order to understand why MSIE 6.0 is so popular. Is it because of licensing? Continued use of Windows 2000? Compromised computers? The data doesn’t provide any clear or compelling reason for this trend.

Moving to Oceania shows a return to the trend of MSIE 7.0 being the predominant browser with Firefox in second place, with these two browsers showing a substantial lead over the remaining field.


South America sees MSIE 7.0 as having the largest market share, followed by MSIE 6.0 and Firefox 3.0. Effectively there are no other browsers with substantial market share at present.


These statistics show that the three most dominant browser platforms by market share are the two MSIE platforms followed by Firefox 3.0. This is likely to change with the MSIE 8.0 GA last week and its predicted release to the masses via Windows Update in the near future.

However, the release of MSIE 8.0 may not be as exponential as is predicted. Corporate IT policies, which have been slow to embrace MSIE 7.0, are likely not going to make a giant leap to MSIE 8.0 overnight. Adoption among the general population will also depend on the ability of existing Web applications to adapt to a more standards-compliant browser platform.

Noticeably absent from most of these statistics is Safari in a position to challenge the three leading browsers. This indicates that even hardcore Mac users continue to use Firefox as their primary Web application and browsing platform. StatCounter backs this up by indicating that within their data, 8.36% of visitors from the USA were on Macs, while 3.15% of visitors used Safari.
Trends to watch in the near future:

  • New browser releases (Firefox 3.1, Safari 4.0) and their effect on browser distribution
  • Uptake of MSIE 8.0 once it is released via Windows Update
  • Browser distribution is Asia

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