The Lay of the Land > Browser Wars 2.0 > Media Type Mayhem
Step one in understanding the mobile web is to get a basic idea of the landscape. While many of us think about the iPhone as being the mobile web (and maybe the Android), it is a lot more complicated than that.
We have to consider the market share of both smartphones (and their respective OSs) and mobile browsers. Since most mobile browsers are tied to a particular smartphone and users are even less likely to deviate from the default browser on their phones than on their desktops, let's start by looking at smartphones.
Both the iPhone and the Android fall into what can be considered the "high-end" market. These devices tend to be for the tech-savvy set who want to do a lot of web browsing and to utilize a variety of applications on the go. Although these high-end phones only account for about twenty percent of the smartphone market, a disproportionately high amount of mobile web browsing traffic goes through these devices.
The other markets to consider are the "business" market and the "mid-range" market. The business market accounts for about thirty-five percent of users, and they tend to focus on e-mail rather than web browsing. The growing mid-range market that accounts for roughly forty-five percent of the market has users that mostly care about functions such as texting, photos, and music. And of course, the device must be reasonably priced.
However, as the capabilities of mid-range devices increase, making mobile browsing more accessible and convenient, the mobile web browsing traffic in the mid-range market is also likely to increase.
For a very good discussion of this topic, read Smartphone Browser Landscape by Peter-Paul Koch.