The Apple iPhone doesn’t make it into the top 20 most popular phones for buying things via the mobile internet, according to a study by Bango.

The research was based on worldwide mobile internet traffic that passed through the Bango network in February.

All in all, the habits of around 1.1m unique visitors were tracked. One in four made a purchase of digital content and services, such as videos, music, games, ringtones and subscriptions, which forms the framework of the study.

The most popular phone was the Nokia 3110c, followed by the Samsung M800 and the Nokia 6300. The lowly iPhone only managed to limp in at number 24.

As such, businesses would be crazy to focus purely on Apple’s whizzy gadget, according to Bango CEO Ray Anderso:

“To get the most out of their mobile marketing spend, companies who are riding the iPhone wave, attracted by its excellent features and user demographics, need to optimize their mobile websites for all phones - especially those in Bango's Top 20 handset list. Without this, they will be missing out on the mass market”

He’s right. But it's not easy. The bigger picture is as wide as it is deep: there are more than 1,800 handsets that accessed the mobile internet last month, judging by the Bango data. This is a challenge, to say the least. Just think about the pain of making a website compatible across the five biggest browsers, and then multiply that by 360!

That’s not to say that you need to make everything amazingly usable for all phones, but the point is that there are 23 phones ahead of the iPhone. Shouldn’t the mobile web be optimised for those handset owners first?

Probably, but then again the answer may in fact be less obvious. There are growth prospects and behavioural aspects to factor in, not to mention the demographic differences between owners of these various handsets. Not all handset users are equal.

For example, if your business operates in South Korea you would do well to look at optimising the hell out of the Nokia S60, which will sell 300m units by the end of the year, versus 40m iPhones, according to predictions.

Of course m-commerce is about more than digital content and services, popular as these mobile-specific products are. It gets more interesting when you ponder the wider range of purchasing opportunities that e-commerce has to offer.

While Bango warns that “spending by iPhone users is restricted to the Apple App Store”, that’s only relevant to the context of its research framework (digital content and services). If we take a broader sweep at m-commerce, we’re starting to see more mobile sites geared up for iPhones without the need for a prior visit to the App Store.

In particular, the Betfair mobile website is a good example. It can be downloaded directly from, and works very much as an iPhone app does. I haven’t tested Betfair’s site on the other 20 or so handsets that are more popular (globally) in the Bango study, so it would be good to hear about how it works on other phones, and whether Betfair has different versions of the app for different handsets. We'll do some digging in this area.

At any rate, do keep us posted if you’re a retailer or travel firm that is making moves in this space.

Chris Lake

Published 30 March, 2009 by Chris Lake

Chris Lake is CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (4)

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

Hey Richard,

You know, I originally wrote that there was no need for a download but convinced myself that I was mistaken after visiting the mobile site. I'd pointed our senior reporter at it earlier in the day, with a view to reviewing it, which we will do. It works very well indeed for the iPhone, based on a first pass...

On the Bango point that there are 23 handsets more popular than the iPhone, what do you say to that, and have you plans to optimise for other handsets...? I'd previously downloaded the mobile app from Betfair during my pre-iPhone days. Not quite the same experience.



over 9 years ago


Richard Hewitt

It's a very interesting point from Bango for sure and we do provision for all of the top handsets that support Java, as well as providing a light browser experience for those that don't.

This has worked well for us to date. However, I think that we're likely to be looking to provide a more tailored expereince for some mobile handsets as more long-life platforms come to the fore.

We have done this for the iPhone as we're confident that the interface will have the longevity not traditionally associated with mobile products. This was not our first commitment to a single interface as we we also invested time in specifically optimising our Java product to work with BlackBerry in 2007, which has proven to be hugely popular.

Other than BlackBerry and the iPhone there is a case for an Android and Nokia optimised product, which would be in keeping with the app stores that are upcoming.
However, whether there would be a demand for absolutely unique products for these platforms or if we continue to provide a ubiquitous look and feel through a Java application for all but the iPhone (which has significant barriers for 3rd party gamblng applications) is still open and we're continuing with our Java\Browser approach for the moment.,  our Java App and are covering the core need and we're certainly going to be offering more mobile services in the coming year.

My belief is that mobile browsing is the biggest opportunity as it overcomes the fragmetnation that we all suffer with the various handsest, firmwear versions, carriers and so on.
 Making sure we have the needs of our comsumers covered with great featured products means that applications, and quite possibly brand specific products, could well have a place in Betfair's future.

Some product will need a high degree of functionality that leverages on services not available through a browser and in these cases I can see that we would be looking to build specific products to access these.

over 9 years ago



"the point is that there are 23 phones ahead of the iPhone. Shouldn’t the mobile web be optimised for those handset owners first?"

No it shouldn't, the conclusions you're touting are drawn from a tiny subset of the overall internet-usage/sales by mobile phones. Readers, make sure you check with third party stats providers.


over 9 years ago


Walter Jablonowski

The Problem is:

mCommerce is web based, and iPhone users do not use the web - they use apps.

3 billion app downloads and 100.000 apps available. This is about "avoiding google search". Finding and download an app is much faster! And you can find an app for nearly anything. So, why start the browser?

The second problem: Although there are many app, shopping apps are missing. Just ebay, Amazon, sure some smaller ones, but not thousands  of shops like in the web. Even most big companies do not have a app until now. Many people, that I have talked to, even think apps would be websites, which is wrong: an app is a program, implemented in Apple' Objective C language. They just don't know, and rely on their online shops.

You see: This will take time. Companies first have to learn that if you want to do mCommerce on iPhone, you need an APP.

Check this example:


over 8 years ago

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