Verizon: Despite Android's device dominance, Apple's iOS wins 64% video viewing share

While the open-source Android operating system dominates the mobile device market--holding an 80 percent share--Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) iOS is far and away the preferred device for online video streaming. According to data provided by Verizon Digital Media Services (VDMS), 64 percent of mobile viewers use iOS to stream video.

Why? The answer is simple, Verizon (NYSE: VZ) says in detailing its findings, compiled from various sources including its VDMS live-streaming data early in 2015: device fragmentation. Online video providers only have to encode video for 24 distinct iOS devices in today's marketplace. But they have to figure out a much bigger puzzle when faced with more than 18,000 Android-based devices that were on the market in 2014.

"Consumption patterns have indeed changed," said James Segil, chief marketing officer for Verizon Digital Media Services, adding that the company has "a huge amount of live event streaming traffic."

Verizon Digital Media Services device numbers

Detail from a VDMS infographic illustrates the device fragmentation issue. (Source: Verizon Digital Media Services)

Of course, VDMS is using the information to tout its encoding services, driven by its UpLynk solution, at the Mobile World Congress 2015 trade show in Barcelona, Spain, this week.

But the implication for the online video industry as a whole is perhaps more concerning. Streaming providers have yet to settle on a single encoding standard--though HTML5 seems to be gaining more steam at this point with Netflix's adoption. Also, there are three adaptive bitrate formats to choose from: Apple's HTTP live streaming, Adobe's Dynamic streaming, or Microsoft's Smooth streaming format. And Verizon isn't wrong when it says the cost of encoding a video stream can quickly spiral upwards to as high as $2.5 million for every 50,000 hours of video streams.

Verizon is likely planning a more direct demonstration of its single-point encoding solution later this year, when it launches an as-yet-unnamed OTT service. CFO Fran Shammo hinted at what the service would entail on Monday at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference 2015.

The "mobile first" OTT service will include multicast technology that Verizon has been trialing for several months now, Shammo noted, saying that its LTE Multicast component is an efficient way to deliver live video to millions of viewers at the same time, such as the Super Bowl.

VDMS is a central player in Verizon's over-the-top strategy. It made some key acquisitions in late 2013, including EdgeCast, which gave it a strong CDN component, and UpLynk, an adaptive streaming startup, to drive its end-to-end online video strategy. The unit handles more than 5 percent of all Internet traffic worldwide and connects to over 2,000 Internet service providers.

For more:
- see this Verizon infographic (PDF)

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Related articles:
Verizon's Shammo: Internet of Things, OTT video will drive future growth
As networks strain, pay-TV operators begin embracing OTT distribution
Wi-Fi Multicast: Ericsson, Cisco see new tech as complementary to LTE Multicast

Mike Dano contributed to this article.