Mobile analytics is the study of the way mobile users access the Internet, and specific websites. This study can cover statistical information such as the number of people using a particular operating system or handset. It can also cover behavioral information such as how long mobile users spend visiting a site compared to people using a desktop computer.
For the most part, mobile analytics works in the same way as web analytics. It involves tracking the activity of site visitors through website logs, which record every file accessed by a user and the time they accessed it. Analytics companies will provide services to individual sites to measure their visitor behavior. The largest analytics companies deal with thousands or even millions of customers and take advantage of this by aggregating data from all their customers. This aggregated data is the source for most reports about particular mobile operating systems gaining or losing market share.
Compared with standard web analytics, mobile analytics has a specific advantage with location data. A log of visitors using desktop computers only gives the general location of each visitor, and depending on his Internet set-up, even this may be inaccurate. With some mobile user data, the user's location can be detailed more precisely. This can help the site owners to better meet their users' needs. For example, if a price comparison website is being used a lot in shopping malls, the owners of the site may consider redesigning it to be quicker to access on the move, or even offer a filtering system that only offers results for stores in a particular mall.
Because of the success of mobile applications, not all mobile analytics data comes from websites. Some app developers will gather data from their users. For example, they could gather statistics showing that males aged 18-34 spend the most time each day using a specific app. This would make the in-app advertising particularly attractive to companies wanting to target that market. There are limitations to this, as the producers of some mobile operating systems restrict how app developers use such data.