The Ascent of Android

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Steve Jobs would have been pleased. The thing that strikes you most when looking at Javelin's latest research on mobile banking and talking to its author, Mary Monahan, is the devotion banks still have to Apple's iPhone, even as Android devices lead in consumer market share, as they did last year.

According to Javelin Strategy & Research's latest consumer survey (the group polled 3,000 consumers in the fourth quarter), Google's Android smartphones and tablets now claim 48% of the U.S mobile market, up from 34% last year. Apple's mobile device market share is 32% this year, up from 27% last year. (RIM dropped from 25% last year to 12% this year; Windows Mobile dropped from 13% to 8%.)

Despite these market changes, 92% of the 25 large financial institutions that Javelin tracks in its annual banking scorecard provide Apple apps, while 84% have an Android offering; this is roughly the opposite of what you'd expect. This may reflect nostalgia and a design preference for the Apple iOS, which for some banks was what lured them into providing mobile banking in the first place. "The iPhone is simple, it's an easy platform to service," she says. "The Android is a messy platform to service, the banks have to be dragged kicking and screaming to develop for it."

But neglecting the Android world is a risk for banks. "Lack of access is becoming an increasing irritation to consumers," Monahan says.

Javelin's 2012 Mobile Banking Financial Institution Scorecard found that overall, 33% of smartphone-toting American adults now conduct banking on their mobile device; this is up from 24% last year.

Mobile deposit also has gained in popularity, according to the report. "One of the biggest things consumers complain about is that they want it and don't have it," Monahan says. Currently 48% of banks offer mobile deposit. Monahan also believes the ability to automatically pay a bill by taking a picture of it with a smartphone camera will be important going forward, as will letting people enroll in mobile banking by snapping a photo of their driver's license. Today, only 8% of banks offer mobile enrollment; most require online banking registration first.

Javelin declared Chase's mobile banking offerings - SMS, mobile browser and native apps - the best of the 25 large U.S. banks it studied this year.

"They were one of the first to come out with mobile apps, and they keep perfecting them," Monahan notes.

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