Before looking at the figures I would have thought that Android, with their broader number of devices and manufacturers to choose from (as well as prices, multiple Android handsets can be had for free with a contract, where the iPhone 3GS was only recently reduced to free/99 cents with contract). According to CNET 43.7 percent of smartphone users have an Android handset, with 27.7 percent owning an iPhone (but these figures don’t include tablets, where Apple’s iPad has far outsold any competitors).
Surprisingly, the mobile web marketshare was very different that I had expected. Apple’s iOS garnered 65% of the market, far outstripping Android’s 20% (and that figure has actually grown from last month’s 62% iOS share). Other competitors ranked so poorly they really don’t even rate as a competitor- Windows Phone and Symbian scored only 1%, and Blackberry’s foundering platform ranked a measly 2%.
So what do these numbers mean? One easy answer is that Apple’s focus on user experience is paying off yet again; the market share is a clear indication that users are not only snapping up iOS devices as fast as they can be manufactured, they are actually using them. The online presence shows that iOS devices are being used for more than a telephone or media consumption device, owners are using their devices as web portals.
This is reflected by app purchases- sales of Android apps is a fraction (up to six times less) of Apple’s App Store. A comparison of multi platform apps showed that Android versions generated only 24% of the revenue generated by the iOS version. Even Google generates four times more advertising revenue via iOS than their own operating system.
Ultimately, these figures are indicative of adherence to strategy and vision. Apple made their devices to look good, be straightforward and reliable to use, and offer the best all around experience. Apple created their mobile platform as a compliment to their comprehensive product line of devices and services, with all devices working seamlessly together. The foundation had been laid long before thanks to the iPod and iTunes. The various iOS devices have acted as gateway products for sales of other, more expensive devices as well as multimedia. Android lacked this foundation; the handsets still act more as stand-alone devices rather than part of a larger ecosystem. While Android has made significant improvements, it still faces some crucial hurdles- fragmentation (differing generations and versions of Android abound), difficulty in updating devices, poor app vetting (Google’s own app store has housed malware), differing quality devices from manufacturers, and a lack of a unified end user experience.
Regardless of the hurdles it faces, Android is still a force in the market. Apple lacks any other competition (at least until the Windows 8 handsets reach the market later this year), and the market needs Android to drive innovation. Android does offer some unique value to customers: its integration with Google services is fantastic, and some of its integrated functions have been judged better than comparable ones in iOS. Ultimately, developers are the lifeblood of a device ecosystem, and developers follow revenue. Over the long term, user profitability and lower app revenues could be a significant problem for Android.