Smartphone and tablet users’ habits remain generally unchanged when it comes to downloading apps, streaming music, and accessing social networks, according to the latest data from research firm comScore.
For the three months ending June 2012, some 51.4 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers used downloaded apps—the tiniest uptick from the 50.0 percent at the beginning of the reporting period. Browser use also rose slightly, from 49.3 percent to 50.2 percent, while accessing a social networking site or blog rose from 36.1 percent to 36.9 percent. Listening to music on a mobile phone experienced the largest rise, from 25.3 percent to 27.6 percent.
During that same period, the market-share for each of the respective smartphone operating systems didn’t budge much, either. Google saw Android’s market percentage climb from 51.0 percent to 51.6 percent, while Apple enjoyed a rise from 30.7 percent to 32.4 percent.
Meanwhile, Research In Motion continued its longer-term decline, falling from 3.9 percent to 3.8 percent. Microsoft’s market-share likewise tumbled a bit, from 3.9 percent to 3.8 percent, and Symbian—which Microsoft’s Windows Phone replaced on Nokia devices—continued its slide from 1.4 percent to 0.9 percent.
What does all this mean? Despite billions of dollars invested in everything from new hardware and software to court cases, Android and Apple’s iOS are nowhere near breaking a longtime stalemate as the two driving forces in the mobile industry. While Windows Phone is viewed by many analysts as a potential long-term competitor, there’s precious little sign that a massive marketing push earlier this year had an appreciable effect on device uptake—which is unfortunate for Nokia, whose devices were the focus of that push.
It stands to reason that, if the operating-system market stays relatively stable, and no new apps or social networks drive people to radically change their mobile habits, then people’s behavior vis-à-vis their mobile devices is likely to stay stable, as well.
It might not stay stable for long, however. Apple is reportedly gearing up to release the iPhone 5; Microsoft is prepping Windows Phone 8, a successor to Windows Phone 7.x that features deep interoperability with the upcoming Windows 8; and RIM has BlackBerry 10, its next-generation Hail Mary, in frantic development. Those devices and platforms, as well as the apps that come with them, have the chance to radically change the market—as well as consumer behavior.