Blog Post

iOS Battles Android for Market Share

Net Applications and AdMob have released their latest reports, and both suggest the protracted struggle for the future of mobile computing is far from over.

Net Applications, which derives web browsing market share from some 160 million visitors to sites within its network, has now proven that iPad owners like browsing the web. The iPad, running iOS, nearly doubled its share of the operating system market, from .09 percent in May to .17 percent in June. That surpassed the iPod touch, which remained at .12 percent, while the iPhone dipped from .60 to .59 percent from May to June, likely in anticipation of the iPhone 4.

According to Net Applications, the combined total for iOS is now .87 percent and will likely pass desktop Linux, which hovers around one percent, but that’s not the Linux that matters. For June, Android was up a fraction to .14 percent, about a sixth the share of iOS and less than the iPad. Looking at Net Applications data, Android doesn’t appear to be much of a threat to iOS, but in AdMob’s May report we see something else.

AdMob derives data from some 23,000 websites and mobile applications, meaning iOS and Android usage is far higher than units sold.

Source: AdMob

Since late 2009, around the launch of the Verizon (s vz) Droid, the trend has favored Android, but not just Droid. As of this May, 14 devices represented 92 percent of Android traffic on the AdMob network, compared to one device last May. Android has further shown a 29 percent increase month over month since last year, while iOS has slowly declined.

Source: AdMob

But those aren’t the only statistics in AdMob’s May report. Looking at devices by operating system, iOS more than doubles Android’s share in the U.S., and more than triples that share worldwide. Currently, iOS is experiencing strongest growth in Europe and Asia, while 67 percent of Android devices are in North America, followed by 13 percent in China. This could mean Apple has successfully expanded its market worldwide and Google (s goog) has not, but it’s more likely that Android has just not taken off worldwide yet.

The bad news is Apple will likely never dominate mobile operating systems. Even if a Verizon iPhone launches early next year, the chance to crush Android has passed. The good news is that even if Apple loses to Google, the average consumer will never know the difference. In just three years, iOS has established itself as a major mobile platform that cannot be dislodged anytime soon. As far as one can see into the future, maybe five years, there will be an abundance of apps, Apple will continue to be profitable and we can expect many Next Great Things.

If that is defeat, I embrace it.

9 Responses to “iOS Battles Android for Market Share”

  1. Anyone, and I mean anyone who claims they can predict five years into the future of the web share if the mobile market is full of it. Android has not bee out long enough for anyone to known if there will be repeat buyers. The initial “sales” are strong because companies are giving the thing away. But there are serious issues with platform fragmentation and many failed devices. And no developers are making money selling applications on the platform yet. And any statistics bases on ads are bogus because many people use ad blockers on their mobile devices. So predicting mobile marker share makes a nice Internet article, but if you base any business decisions on it, then your not being smart.

  2. Bruce

    @Mark: “Judging by some of your comments, Charles, you must own a boatload of AAPL.”

    The article says iOS has 2 to 3 times the market share of Android at the moment, but that Android will probably surpass iOS in the foreseeable future. How you can get from the article text to your conclusion of a pro-Apple article bias is beyond me.

  3. PXLated

    Rob wrote – “Apple can if they so wish play the entry price point”

    Yes, people forget how masterly Apple played the mp3 player market with everything from the Shuffle to the iPod-Touch.

  4. Rob Scott

    This is Android has won or will definitely win talk is premature and probably wrong. Android is strongest in the UU and that’s only because the iPhone is NOT available in other SPs.
    There is no price differential between an iPhone and an Android phone that competes directly with the iPhone, and probably never will be.
    Apple can if they so wish play the entry price point, and would probably be preferred than a generic entry Android phone.
    Apple can widen their range if and when they feel threatened by Android.
    Apple can get out of exclusive relationships (US and Germany)
    Apple has options people.
    Apple does not even market iPhones in most countries, unlike in the US. When they feel the heat from Android they can up their marketing game.
    But most importantly the iPhone like the Milestone are FREE on contract in most countries. There are no price barriers in adopting Apple products unlike in the PC industry.
    And as someone else has said in this thread, the smartphone market is just getting started.

    It is these reasons why I do not understand Gigaom’s obsession and wish that Apple must lose the smartphone wars.

  5. Judging by some of your comments, Charles, you must own a boatload of AAPL.
    The smartphone wars have just begun. The actual percentage of smartphone ownership around the world is very, very low. There are huge opportunities for everyone involved, and we can’t take a snapshot of Android and iOS and call it good.
    Android’s coming on strong and will eventually, probably faster than most believe, replace iOS as the most popular OS in mobile. The sheer numbers of manufacturers supporting Android can’t be ignored.
    I don’t know about you, but I can’t see an iPhone in the hands of an aboriginal tribesman out in the middle of nowhere, but I can easily see an inexpensive Android phone.

  6. PXLated

    But, is it even relevant grouping all “android-based” phones together? Do most people even know about android or is it the individual manufacturer or carrier brands they buy (DroidX) – or even the individual interfaces (Sense, Blur)?

    As manufacturers needs to distinguish themselves increase (they certainly don’t want to get forced into a Dell race to the bottom situation), will they further cover up the underlying operating system? Right now, their only choice/hope of having a competing product is android. They could easily see the need to totally fork it, make it their own and completely fragment the marketplace.

    Lots of questions and ifs there. I think you might be premature in declaring the chance to crush android has passed.

  7. Why does one company have to win or lose? When did MobileOS become a zero-sum game? Maybe Apple and Google can compete and force both platforms to improve while sharing the mobileOS market. Just because it didn’t work that way with desktops does not mean that the mobile OS will turn out the same way.