Java ME overtakes Android in mobile

A report by Net Applications shows some curious trends regarding mobile and tablet usage. Both iOS and Android usage peaked in October, with shares of 61.5 per cent and 18.86 per cent, respectively. Both have since lost fairly substantial share, in part to Symbian and BlackBerry growth, but mostly due to a resurgent Java ME.

According to the figures, Java ME has rebounded from an October low of 12.81 per cent to leapfrog Android into second place during December.

We wondered if the dramatic spikes in October suggested an anomalous sample or some other event to account for the dramatic usage changes. Vincent Vizzaccaro, EVP Marketing and Strategic Alliances at Net Applications, told us: "Our sample of websites we track did undergo significant growth in October and November – primarily in Asia – and this did have an effect on trends in our reports."

But even without the spikes, the overall trends appear to show growth for Java ME after a decline throughout the first half of 2011, stagnation or slow growth for Android, and a dominant but volatile iOS share.

Quite why these trends are occurring is harder to pin down, but it's likely iOS users continue to stream a disproportionate amount of online content, hence usage figures well above the platform's equivalent sales marketshare; meanwhile, the Java ME figures and Vizzaccaro's comment point to more web usage in less developed countries, where more people often use less advanced devices and mobile phones.

Regardless, the figures showcase that for web designers and developers, it's important to always keep an eye on trends and not make assumptions that certain platforms are and will remain dominant. And that if you want to cater for most mobile web users, you need to be looking beyond iOS users in the West.

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