Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) supporters have shrugged off the rise of Android to lead the smartphone market by pointing out that Apple’s dominance of the tablet market makes it the mobile leader. Now they have some numbers to back up that argument courtesy of Comscore (NSDQ: SCOR), which found that Apple has a sizable lead when all devices running mobile operating systems are counted.
There are around 37.8 million people in the U.S. using at least one Apple device running iOS, Comscore reported Tuesday. That compares to around 23.7 million users of at least one Android device across both phones and tablets, and a total mobile user base of 234 million. Comscore’s numbers measure the “unduplicated audience reach” of each mobile OS, and it found that only 4 million iOS users access the software from more than one device, meaning there isn’t necessarily as much overlap across Apple users as one might have thought.
“Though it’s frequently assumed that the Apple user base is composed of dedicated Apple ‘fanboys’, there’s not a tremendous amount of overlapping mobile device access among these users,” said Comscore’s Mark Donovan, senior vice president of mobile, in a press release highlighting the numbers. “This of course has significant implications for the developer community as they consider the market potential in developing applications for different mobile platforms.”
Assuming Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and its Android partners can come up with at least one compelling combination of the Android 3.0 software and tablet hardware, the gap between the two mobile platforms might draw closer in a year. But it shows that for 2011, at the least, Apple is still likely to be front and center before application developers and companies trying to target mobile users.
However, those groups still need to think of the iPhone/iPod Touch and the iPad as separate devices to a certain degree, as applications really need to be tailored for one device or the other to get the full benefit. iPhone applications will run on the iPad, but many of the top-tier developers have gone and created iPad applications and Apple divides the App Store into two sections, one for iPhone and one for iPad.