New information from comScore shows Android extending its lead over Apple’s iPhone during the three month period ending in December 2010. Google’s mobile OS is now within close striking distance of Research In Motion (RIM), the U.S. smartphone market leader.


New information from comScore shows Android extending its lead over Apple’s iPhone during the three month period ending in December 2010. Google’s mobile OS is now within close striking distance of Research In Motion (RIM), the U.S. smartphone market leader. Yet despite its growing presence, Android is still having a much tougher time selling apps to consumers than Apple.

Android now accounts for 28.7 percent of the U.S. smartphone market, up 7.3 points from the previous three month period, which ended in September of 2010. Apple saw only a 0.7 point gain, jumping from 24.3 to 25.0 percent during the same period. Both companies edged closer to BlackBerry maker RIM, which dropped 5.7 percentage points from 37.3 to 31.6 percent.

Google’s OS also recently overtook Nokia to become the top smartphone platform worldwide, according to research firm Canalys. But Android’s global reach only tells half the story. The other half is revealed in another new study, detailing global mobile broadband traffic. Network firm Allot Communications released its report on smartphone internet usage Tuesday, collecting information from upwards of 210 million subscribers. The report revealed that Apple’s App Store accounted for 89 percent of mobile software marketplace traffic during 2010, while the Android Market only accounted for 9 percent. The Android Market’s growth over the course of the year was 177 percent, compared to the App Store’s 54 percent, but that’s still a very wide margin.

Apple’s App Store success is a better measure of how iOS is doing than simple market share alone. Market share is important to companies insofar as it represents a way to attract developers to create applications for their platform, which in turn will attract customers who’ll then buy those applications and feel invested (or locked) in to that OS (for more on this, check out the excellent and more detailed explanation at DiogeneX). Google, despite its mobile market share victories, knows it has a problem when it comes to attracting developers, and when it comes to selling paid apps, which is the key to generating lock-in (and by extension, platform loyalty). That’s why the Android-maker recently unveiled a number of significant changes to the Android Market.

Because the App Store has done so well, so quickly, iOS is far less likely to succumb to an erosion of its user base down the road. People have hundreds of dollars invested in the platform already, and if Allot’s figures are accurate, that’s much more than the average Android user, since iOS users are already more likely to spend on apps than Android ones, and they also spend more time browsing the store. That could be why so many Android (and BlackBerry) users seemed ready and willing to switch to iOS when the iPhone 4 came to Verizon.

Android is cheap, and available on a myriad of devices and carriers. Apple’s iOS device pricing is more or less fixed,  fairly expensive and it really comes on only two distinct models of smartphone. And depending on your location, it might not be available on your preferred network. So yes, Android’s growth was bound to explode, but that doesn’t erase or run counter to Apple’s steady progress. Once again, Apple is making the long-term play, and the App Store is the key to that gambit, not worldwide platform adoption.

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  1. Video: Virtualization Brings Android Apps to Non-Android Phones: Mobile Technology News « Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    [...] Again, the proof will be in the pudding as they say: Myriad’s Alien Dalvik will have to deliver performance if this will be a viable way to get Android apps on other platforms. But if Myriad does deliver, it’s a potential win for consumers, developers and carriers alike, and another reason that Android’s general growth trajectory will keep on rising. [...]

  2. I do not agree with this statement:

    “People have hundreds of dollars invested in the platform already”

    The bulk of Apps are free and the major ones are across every platform. Apple has zero exclusive Apps so like cell phones it will come down to price and carrier coverage. If a similar device is cheaper and provides the same functions of an iPhone most people will go cheaper – thus the rise on Android.

    iPhone 5 better be amazing or Apple will lose further market share faster then RIMM has.

    1. @Frank:

      Just doing the math, Apple would seem to have MANY apps that are exclusive to the platform and not available on say…Android. Certainly, none of the big name game companies have embraced Android. The Android market is for those who either hate Apple or are willing to settle for something less because the iPhone is not available on their carrier. Seeing as though just the first 2 hours of sale on Verizon it managed to break sales records, etc. I think the writing is on the wall for sales of Android on that carrier. Yes, Android can pick up the scraps left over on Sprint and T-Mobile. Android’s only saving grace right now is component shortages for the iPhone.

  3. Android’s popularity is not surprising given the fact that It – is – Free! therefore manufacturers would be inclined to use that for their platform.
    Android user retention would not be as simple.

  4. Very well put. I would like to add one thought regarding Apple’s marketing strategy. I find there to be a lot of naive and ignorant thinking that you have to have an Apple computer in order to have an iPhone or other Apple device. Apple’s marketing should reinforce 3 things; their devices work easily and very well for their intended use (ie; the iPhone works easily and very well as a phone), their devices offer a lot of extra features (ie; apps for the iPhone), and their devices are cross-platform compatable (ie; their iPhone will work with their Windows-PC seamlessly). Market your products this way and I’m certain you’ll see a growth in new users.

  5. Android’s sales numbers are impressive, but as the article notes RIM is still the market leader in US. Android failed to become the most popular mobile platform worldwide yet even though it is free. Its usage share is definitely increasing but there is a time lag between sales leadership and usage leadership. Android is leading only in South Korea and few other countries. For a comparison, the world map of most popular mobile platforms for each country is available at http://www.browserrank.com

    1. Agreed. I point out that Android is the new Nokia (OS). Before smartphones were everywhere, I bought all Nokia phones. Did it have (crappy) access to the internet and the ability to buy (crappy) games? It sure did. It wasn’t cheap and it was far less easy. So, it never got used, but Nokia could argue that their internet-ready phone dominated the market.

      Here we are again. Android is gaining to become that position. Sure, it will be almost everywhere. People might ask their children how to download Facebook and one or two games and be done. The geeks will continue to love it in the way they love Linux, but I don’t necessarily see it becoming the dominant place where developers can really cash in, unless Google fixes that.

  6. It’s true that Google’s lack of focus on developers and the Market has slowed down developer interest, but as Android keeps growing, and Google reaches parity or more with Apple’s AppStore in terms of opportunities for making good revenue on apps, it’s still only a matter of time before they catchup in apps, too. Apple still grows steadily, if not in marketshare, at least in number of units sold, but Android is growing faster.

    Developer interest will be a lot higher for Android in 2011, and just wait until Nokia and RIM announce that they will use Android apps within Meego and QNX.

  7. If Android’s share is so big how come it only shows as 20-30% share of iOS’s internet traffic? According to Net Applications iOS is 2.05% and Android is 0.49% for January or less than 25% the size of iOS?
    The analytics from all the sites I monitor are even worse making Android look like it is not significant platform?

    1. Android is becoming ubiquitous, so from a pure numbers standpoint, it looks great. That doesn’t mean that people are going to use (or know how to use) its features. Many are probably free or very cheap and now some users can be like the “young, hip generation” with a touch screen phone.

  8. In another 3 months the iPhone will be way past RIM and Android in the US with Verizon on board and the iPhone 5 coming.

    1. Maybe – All stats so far are irrelevant – The contest just started with Verizon.

  9. I think, its partially the checkout process that looks more like a traditional sale online, as someone who used ios and bought a lot of apps it was easier to forget that your spending real money, also the fact that their are more apps that simply don’t work on particular phones, their are options for returns but the time frame is too short 15 mins for a marketplace that has apps that simply don’t work on some phones. I love androids openness and I wouldn’t want them to move to a process like apple of rejecting apps but I do think they need basic quality control to make sure the apps function, or have a device database that will show if an app has been tested and verified to work on your device

  10. This isn’t like PS3/360 where one console has Halo (or some other game) and the other doesn’t. I Am T-Pain and the like are not some killer exclusive.

    There’s a Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, email, a web browser, et al on almost every platform. That’s 95% of the apps people use. Most people really don’t care about the rest.

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