Some people like to blather on about market share in the small- and compact-screen computer market. Those people are, or course, idiots … what you want to talk about is profit share. Having 60 percent of the market but only 10 percent of the profits isn’t really anything to be bragging about. As in anything else, you want to follow the money. This is especially true if you are a developer. Not only do you want to hook your wagon to the winning team, you want to make sure that there are people willing to support that particular team and plunk down some of their hard-earned moolah in the process.
Unfortunately it’s not always easy to know who is actually making money and (more importably) how much. You can pick through annual reports and the like, make some shred guesses, try and estimate numbers for companies that don’t report publicly, maybe cast some chicken bones and entrails while you are at it … or you can just peek at the world’s most useful bellwether stat: Mobile Internet Usage. How platforms consume data online is a really solid indicator of how much money is being made – both by the handset maker and by developers – on a particular mobile OS. Better, the information is updated constantly and is generally available at a top-level resolution for free.
All of which brings us to the latest data for January 2013. Note that the only three companies who are making money in small-screen computing are also the only three companies not clustered down with the dregs and has-beens at the bottom of the chart. What might be more interesting is that this finally erases the line between what the media calls “smartphones” and the rest of the handset formats. The iOS platform has long been in the lead for mobile internet use among smartphones but now it has passed Nokia for total usage … and considering how many of those Nokia candy bar handsets are still out there and in heavy use, this is a serious tipping point in the history of mobile computing.