Australia’s love affair with Apple

Aussies love their iPhones more than anyone, making it difficult for anyone else to break into the market. No wonder Steve Wozniak wants to live here.
Written by Phil Dobbie, Contributor

According to web analytics company Statscounter, 69 percent of all mobile web browsing in Australia comes from iOS devices. That figure has moved little in the last two years; it is well above the world average of 24 percent, and quite a bit higher than the US' 50 percent.

The Statscounter data seems believable — it is gathered from a tracking code placed on 3 million websites around the world and the sample sizes are large — with more than 17 billion page views per month, 1.5 percent of them from Australia.

Why is Australia so different to the rest of the world? It's not because there has been a slow embrace of Android — it accounts for 28 percent of all traffic, about the same as the UK. Here, in Australia, expensive data plans before the arrival of the iPhone undoubtedly slowed take-up of the smartphones alternatives. In the US, Android adoption started much earlier, and usage is now up to 41 percent of all mobile traffic, but that doesn't mean the rest of the world will follow.

In fact, what makes Australia different is that mobile use has become a two horse race. After iOS and Android, all other platforms account for just 4 percent of the market; compared to 47 percent globally.

This is partially a reflection on slower turnover of models — some countries are still using Blackberry devices, for example — but, also, the influence of Nokia cannot be ignored. By the start of this year, Nokia had sold 1.5 billion such devices, and Statscounter shows that it has captured 15 percent of the world mobile browsing market; Nokia's Symbian OS currently accounts for 12 percent.

Series 40 took off in South America, Asia, and Africa — places where the iPhone is too expensive. Perhaps the real future, at least in emerging markets, is for lower costing and less feature-rich devices.

In last week's Twisted Wire podcast Alcatel Lucent's Jason Collins talked about how the intelligence found on our phones will eventually move into the cloud. We won't need the app-centric features of an iPhone, just a solidly built form factor, with the rich functionality offered through a web browser. If, and when, that happens, you have to wonder whether Aussies will still love their iPhone — and at what price?

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