Is Apple’s iPhone-without-a-phone the McDonald’s Happy Meal of mobile communications?
Peter Farago of the mobile analytics firm Flurry uses data from its November report to make the case that Apple (AAPL) is quietly — and successfully — using the iPod touch to lock in a loyal base of under-age users who will eventually become the next generation of iPhone buyers.
“While it is clear that the iPhone has significant short-term revenue value for Apple,” he writes in a report issued Sunday, “Flurry believes that the iPod Touch holds more long-term strategic value for Steve Jobs and team.”
The evidence that Apple’s strategy is working, Farago says, can be seen in a graph of end-user sessions recorded over the past six months.
Flurry, according to Farago, tracks 15 million end-user sessions every day from its “analytics solution” code embedded in 3,000 applications on 4 platforms: Apple’s iPhone OS ( both iPhone and iPod Touch), Research in Motion’s (RIMM) Blackberry, JavaME and Google (GOOG) Android.
The graph above shows that the iPod touch’s share of those user sessions has grown 4 points over the past six months — the same as Android despite starting from a much larger user base. While the iPhone continues to grow in user sessions, its share in Flurry’s data has dropped from 57% to 50%.
Even more significant, according to Farago, is that kind of things the kids are doing with their iPod touches.
Farago’s empirical evidence is displayed in the two charts below, which show the iPod Touch growing faster than both the iPhone and the Android devices in Flurry’s Social Networking and Games categories.
[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]