Symbian lives!

The folks at StatCounter have reminded us that while Android and iOS may dominate sales of new smartphones in the US and elsewhere, there are still plenty of people who own and use older models every day to browse the web. Their latest data, reported in many places around the web, show that in December 2011, Symbian devices accounted for 33.55% of smartphone web browsing worldwide, compared with 22.7% and 21.8% for iOS and Android respectively.

When you pull North America out of the equation, the numbers are more striking: in Asia, Symbian devices were used for 57.6% of smartphone browsing, and in Africa, a whopping 73.5%.

Source: StatCounter Global Stats - Mobile OS Market Share

To get some indication of what that 33.55% represents, I took a look at the Opera State of the Mobile Web report for November, as most of the Symbian browsing reported by StatCounter was being done with Opera browsers (24.2% of total browsing worldwide, compared with 12.9% for native Symbian browsers).

According to the Opera statistics, the top two Symbian smartphones, based on the number of unique users, were the Nokia N70 (from 2005) and the N73 (from 2006).

Blast from the past!

So what does this mean? If you’re developing a mobile presence for your company or brand, and want to reach customers outside North America, then you may want to make sure that your site works well and looks good on older devices (or at least on Opera browsers on old devices) as well as on the latest Android phones and iProducts. That approach could be useful in North America and Europe as well, where not everyone buys the latest model.

Of course, if you’re going that far, you may want to go the extra mile and make sure that your sites work on the feature phones that are used for much more mobile browsing, at least according to the Opera statistics. The top five devices on their list for November are all Nokia feature phones (but at least fairly recent ones):

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