Mobile Device User Agent Types

A recent post on Hazelware (mobile device user
agents
) rekindled my interest in understanding the
current state of mobile PDA user agent (UA) strings. Having a
comprehensive list would be helpful for automatic delivery of
mobile-formatted content and tracking device popularity.

To learn the types of devices that are reaching my PDA optimized
website list
, I analyzed the access logs from the month of
December 2004. During this 31-day span, the page had a total of
9585 hits with 550 unique user agent strings. The variety of UA
strings was surprising.

Following the Hazelware concept of searching on specific strings
within the UA made the list much more manageable. I used a list
of 19 strings to identify anything that appeared to be a mobile
device. This split the data set into 7886 mobile and 1918 non-mobile
(desktop browsers and search engine crawlers). About 80% of
the hits to this page are from mobile devices, so that seems to
make sense.

Summarizing the data like this isn’t an exact science. Because
the search keywords are a mix of device manufacturer, operating
system, and browser type, it’s really only useful for determining
“is this a mobile user” as opposed to the exact parameters of
the device in question.

Having said that, the data does present and interesting snapshot
of device types:

Agent Total Portion
AvantGo1 3570 45.27%
Windows CE 2555 32.40%
Blazer 736 9.33%
Palm 559 7.09%
BlackBerry 167 2.12%
SonyEricsson 56 0.71%
Smartphone 54 0.68%
MMP 47 0.60%
Nokia 41 0.52%
LG 34 0.43%
NetFront 30 0.38%
RIM 18 0.23%
Xiino 17 0.22%
WAP 1 0.01%
Samsung 1 0.01%
Grand Total 7886 100.00%

Notes:
1. I believe the “AvantGo” UA represents mostly their proxy
servers as opposed to mobile devices running the AvantGo browser.
I need to verify this.

To give you an idea of how varied the UA strings are (even for a
single device type), here’s a sampling of “Windows CE” agents:


Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 4.01; Windows CE; 240x320)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 4.01; Windows CE; 320x240)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 4.01; Windows CE; O2 Xda 2mini; PPC; 240x320)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 4.01; Windows CE; O2 Xda 2s;PPC;240x320; PPC; 240x320)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 4.01; Windows CE; O2 Xda II;PPC;240x320)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 4.01; Windows CE; PIEPlus 1.2; PPC; 240x320)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 4.01; Windows CE; PIEPlus 1.2; PPC; 240x320; PPC; 240x320; SPV M2000; OpVer 5.12.2.141)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 4.01; Windows CE; PIEPlus 1.3; PPC; 240x320; PIEPlus 1.2)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 4.01; Windows CE; PPC; 240x320)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 4.01; Windows CE; PPC; 240x320) 4.01
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 4.01; Windows CE; PPC; 240x320; 240x320)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 4.01; Windows CE; PPC; 240x320; PIEPlus 1.1)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 4.01; Windows CE; PPC; 240x320; PIEPlus 1.2)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 4.01; Windows CE; PPC; MDA Compact/1.0 Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 4.01; Windows CE; Smartphone; 176x220)

Some other related resources on mobile user agents include:
* Mobile Browser ID (User-Agent) Strings
* Sprint Phone User Agents