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iPhone, iPad Dominate Mobile Shopping

By Darrell Etherington, GigaOM

If people are buying through mobile online retail sites, they're most likely doing so on Apple (AAPL) devices, according to a new report this week from retail analysis firm RichRelevance. iPads and iPhones accounted for over 92% of online retail sales not originating from a desktop device occurring in December, according to the study.

That's up from 88% the last time RichRelevance in April, and it easily beat out Android and other competing mobile platforms. Shoppers on Apple devices were also willing to spend more, with an average order value of $123 vs. Android's $101, and $87 from those shopping from traditional desktop operating systems. RichRelevance used data from 3.4 billion online shopping sessions between April and December at U.S. retailers ranging from specialty stores to major e-commerce sites.

Mobile shopping is still a relative drop in the bucket compared to its desktop companion, with just 3.74% of total online retail dollars spent in the U.S., but that number is growing. Thanks in large part to the success of Apple devices, mobile web shopping has doubled in eight months, and RichRelevance CEO David Selinger says the trend will only accelerate. Key to being a part of that growth for retailers, Selinger suggests, is "ensuring a seamless experience across the interplay of device, context and consumer behavior."

Mobile devices seem to be most used for shopping at times when users don't necessarily have immediate access to other types of computing hardware. For example, RichRelevance found that during Thanksgiving, 24% of shoppers visiting retail websites were on mobile devices, the highest share between November and December. On weekends traffic spikes, too, up to 17%from an average of 14% during the period measured.

If there's any key takeaway here for Apple's competition, it's that the browsing experience is key to mobile commerce. Apple's iPhone still offers the most true-to-web rendering of non-mobile Web sites of any smartphone, in my opinion, which means that even if online retailers are slow to tailor their experience to small screens, shoppers can still have a relatively painless shopping experience. It might also just be the case that the demographics of Apple mobile device buyers inclines them toward mobile shopping anyway, since they tend to have a lot of disposable income and be more responsive to advertising.

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