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iOS Over Linux Today, Android Over iOS Tomorrow

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According to web metric firm Net Applications, iOS (s aapl) has passed Linux for third place in worldwide OS market share as measured by web browsing.

Net Applications derives web browsing market share from some 160 million visitors to its network of sites, and Microsoft (s msft) Windows is being run by more than 90 percent of those visitors. Even so, this is still an achievement for iOS. A little over three years after the first “iPhone OS” device went on sale, iOS has 1.13 percent share worldwide, compared to 0.85 percent share for Linux.

In the same time frame, OS X has increased from 3 percent to around 5 percent, but has been stuck at around 5 percent share for a year. That’s because market share, as measured by web browsing, is still tied to market share by unit sales. While Mac sales continue trending upward, from around 11 million Macs sold in 2009 to between 12 and 15 million in 2010, that’s nothing compared to iOS device sales.

Apple will sell at least 50 million iOS devices in 2010, and web usage share is tracking right along with those sales. The iPhone itself is now at 0.73 percent and will likely pass both Linux and Java ME, Java (s orcl) for mobile systems, sometime next year. The iPod touch is now at 0.13 percent, up again, and the iPad now has double that, 0.27 percent, just four months after launch.

The future is bright for iOS, but it’s probably brighter for Android.

Android is already outselling the iPhone in unit sales with Google (s goog) claiming a daily average for activations that works out to between 15 an 20 million devices per quarter, double the iPhone. Web share will almost certainly follow in the future, but it matters right now.

Apple’s war with Adobe (s adbe) over Flash is predicated upon the popularity of iOS devices encouraging content producers to use Flash alternatives. Android runs Flash, admittedly terribly, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is Android will be running on a plurality, if not majority, of mobile devices in the medium-term future. Even if Apple continues to embargo Flash, content producers will be less likely to abandon Flash in an Android world.

Today, iOS trumps Linux. Tomorrow, it will be Android over iOS, with Adobe Flash along for the ride.

Related GigaOM Pro Research: Who Owns Android’s Future? Google — Or Apple?

17 Responses to “iOS Over Linux Today, Android Over iOS Tomorrow”

  1. “Tomorrow, it will be Android over iOS, with Adobe Flash along for the ride.”

    How do you figure? First of all, Flash only (barely) runs on Android 2.2, a very small fraction of the overall Android market. Many of those 15 to 20 million “activations” are for older versions of Android that don’t support Flash.

    Secondly, Apple says they are currently selling 230,000 iOS devices a day, which is just under 20 million a quarter. While there may be two versions of iOS (4.x for iPod touch and iPhone and 3.2.x for iPad) they will be merged and have feature parity when iOS 4.2 arrives in November. Furthermore, unlike Android, iOS devices are easily and immediately upgradable.

    • Keep in mind that the number of iOS activations is just after the iPhone 4 launch, and it includes all iOS devices, a tacit admission that Android is beating the iPhone on smartphones already. Google has just debunked Jobs’ suggestion that Android activations included upgrades, too. Google’s number of activations keep climbing, as well. Finally, Android tablets will start appearing shortly.

      It’s over.

      This is not to say that Apple is doomed, just that iOS will not be the majority, or even plurality, mobile OS. Android probably won’t earn a majority either, though that might happen.

      What will happen is Android, as well as ever other mobile OS, will have Flash. That kind of super majority is kind of hard to ignore.

      • It’s impossible to know who’s telling the truth here. Both Google and Apple could have fudged the numbers.

        I don’t think Adobe will ever get Flash working with good enough performance to sway OEMs. It’s taken them this long just to get it working at all, and the mobile web is already adapting to the iPad and iPhone.

        Either way you look at it, Flash is holding the web back. It’s not open, you have to install it, and it’s had numerous security vulnerabilities.

  2. So Google says they have 200,000 android activations a day and Apple says they have 230,000 iOs activations a day and you guys come up with a headline like this? Time for a math refresher at GigaOm.

  3. Droid is basically a US-only, temporary phenomenon. When ATT loses it’s iPhone exclusivity Android has no selling points. Sure, you can get a Droid phone for free– most people do–but the calling plans are so much more expensive than the phone hardware, the cost of the handset is a trivial fraction of the TCO. So…. ATT haters will have zero incentive to saty on Andorid, essentially.

  4. I have no doubt that I am going to have trouble with this comment, but your data is very out dated. In 2008 Android was only available on one device. Also linux’s popularity has grown by leaps and bounds since Ubuntu 8.04 and other 2008 Distros. Android is not technically linux it is linux. Symbian is unix so we can’t count that in, but it is Open-Source. Android had only been available on a mass scale for the last year. I guarantee that an agree fan boy will reply! LOL.

  5. Tech bloggers and pundits should be aware of this old lesson that many still have not learnt back in the days when comparison between Microsoft and Apple was rife. Pundits used to point to Microsoft Windows large market share as indicative of a successful OS compared to Apple Mac OS (any version) small market share. The lesson that still has not been learnt by most bloggers and pundits is that market share does not mean success, or sustainability. Market share is not a necessary indication of that.

    The rule here then is:

    Thou shalt not conflate market share with company success or sustainability of a product or company.

    • Linux, iOS, and OS X have a lot in common technically, but nonetheless represent distinct platforms in usage.

      As for Android being fragmented between versions, well, iOS fragments too. How many iOS devices can’t run iOS 4.x, or run it very, very poorly?

      • How many Android phones are still running 1.6 or some crappy skin? Fragmentation is much worse on Android. And I don’t think Apple not updating older iPhones to iOS 4 really counts as fragmentation; they’ve just hit the limits of the hardware. Plus, the original iPhone and iPhone 3G aren’t on sale anymore.