Is Android the boys' club of smartphones?

Nearly three-quarters of Android users are guys, according to a new report. So what gives?

Android, it seems, may be metaphorically stuck in a treehouse with a "NO GIRLS ALLOWED" sign nailed to the door.

Google's smartphone platform has attracted a disproportionate number of male users, according to a report released today. And lest you think the gender gap is universal to all smartphones, Apple's iPhone actually proved to be quite female-friendly.

Android and iPhone User Differences

The report, assembled by mobile advertising firm AdMob, is based on a survey of smartphone users around the world. While the sampling isn't necessary 100-percent scientific, it does provide some interesting fodder for the always-popular Android-iPhone comparison game.

According to AdMob, nearly three-quarters of Android users are male. That's not to say you have to be a dude in order to qualify as an Android fanboy, of course -- but the fellas sure do hold a sizable majority in Google's court.

iPhone users, in comparison, are pretty close to evenly divided when it comes to gender. A full forty-three percent of Apple fanatics are female, AdMob finds. Palm's webOS is a similarly balanced story, with 42 percent of its user base waving the woman card.

(Windows Mobile -- er, sorry, Windows Phone 7 Series -- wasn't mentioned in the study. Evidently, its users fall into some undefinable gender category. I won't ask.)

The Android Gender Gap

So why the gap with Android? AdMob's analysis didn't go into detail, but one could certainly speculate that marketing may play a role. The Motorola Droid -- arguably the fastest selling Android phone thus far, even with the debut of Google's Nexus One -- has been the subject of a widespread and memorable advertising campaign. In addition to the whole iPhone-bashing "iDon't" thing, the Droid's marketing has undeniably revolved around some male-friendly concepts.

From robot-focused commercials to spots featuring stealth fighter jets, the Droid's marketing has made its target audience incredibly clear. One ad even famously asked if a phone should be pretty, then went on to slam the iPhone as a "tiara-wearing, digitally clueless beauty pageant queen." The Droid, it explained, is a robot -- "not a princess."

Now, will all women be turned off by that kind of approach? Of course not; plenty of tech-loving ladies appreciate geeky stuff as much as any manly man. But it's hard to deny that outside of the world of technophiles, the campaign was generally designed to appeal to guys. And that may be part of the reason why Android, thus far, is leaning heavily toward the boys' side of the playground.

As the number of Android handsets continues to expand (exponentially, it sometimes seems), I'm guessing this gender gap will become less pronounced. Let's hope so, anyway -- this three-to-one guy-girl ratio sure doesn't do much for our street cred.

JR Raphael is a PCWorld contributing editor and the co-founder of eSarcasm. He's on Facebook: facebook.com/The.JR.Raphael

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JR Raphael

PC World (US online)
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