A year’s time seems much longer in the mobile space. It’s tough to believe that one year ago Samsung’s Galaxy S5 was still months away from its public release in the U.S., and T-Mobile had just announced its plan to reimburse users switching to the network for early termination fees – a practice that has since been adopted by Sprint.
After touching on some 2015 trends to watch in a previous column, this time around, I’ll take stock of the smartphone sector by focusing on its biggest player — Apple.
As the iPhone user base generates the biggest portion of North American smartphone traffic, let’s begin by breaking down its continental Web activity on a model-by-model basis. The data points below were derived from tens of millions of ad impressions served to U.S. and Canadian smartphones between January 12 and 18, 2015.
As seen above, iPhone 6 users currently generate 11.8% of North American iPhone-based Web traffic. That’s a 5X jump from the 2.3% share observed in Chitika Insights’ last study on the subject back in late September.
Looking more broadly, the iPhone 6 constitutes 6.3% of all North American smartphone Web traffic. For some comparison, users of Samsung’s Galaxy S5 collectively generate 7.3% of total North American smartphone web traffic, although that device was released in April 2014 — more than five months prior to the iPhone 6.
Moving to the iPhone 6 Plus, its users now generate 3.6% of North American iPhone-based web traffic — a 3.3 percentage point increase since the September report. Overall, iPhone 6 Plus users generate 1.9% of all North American smartphone web traffic. This is slightly ahead of the Galaxy Note 4, whose users are responsible for 1.1% of total continental smartphone usage.
The numbers above underscore a couple major themes – the first is that new iPhones remain incredibly popular domestically. While the combined 15.4% share of iPhone web traffic driven by the newest models may not seem like much, keep in mind that Apple’s iPhone user base is the largest of any brand. As such, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are already some of the biggest drivers of smartphone web traffic in North America,
As illustrated above, the Apple smartphone user base as a whole also continues to be incredibly active in North America.
ComScore’s most recent figures put Apple’s share of total U.S. smartphone subscribers at 41.9%. Yet, Apple users’ share of smartphone web traffic remains much higher:
Notice how similar this landscape looks to what we observed at the start of 2014:
With this in mind, the incentive for marketers to focus a substantial portion of their efforts on the iPhone user base continues despite the growth of Android domestically. However, the fact remains that 84.6% of all iPhone traffic within North America is driven by users of iPhone 5 and older iPhone models. This issue is unlikely to solve itself anytime soon.
While there will be iPhone users upgrading to a 6 or 6 Plus model over the coming year, it seems highly unlikely that we will see older iPhone usage share drop below 65% of total iPhone web traffic at any point in 2015.
This fact gets at the heart of marketers’ desire to take full advantage of some of the new functionality of the latest iPhones – primarily Apple Pay and HealthKit. While specific target markets may have higher rates of adoption (e.g., affluent, tech-savvy), marketers looking to address a larger cross-section of the country will likely need to keep those older iPhone users top of mind for the time being.
For some additional reference along these lines, you can view a state-by-state map of iPhone usage rates here.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.
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About The Author
Andrew Waber is a Market Analyst and lead author of reports for Chitika Insights, the research arm of the Chitika online ad network, which issues widely-cited weekly studies on a variety of North American Web usage trends. In his current role, Andrew manages the data analysis, editorial direction, and strategy for the Chitika Insights research program. Prior to his time at Chitika, Andrew was an Account Executive at SHIFT Communications, and graduated with a B.S. in Marketing from Bentley University. His commentary on given Chitika Insights studies has been quoted by CNN Money, The Guardian, and InformationWeek, among other outlets.