iOS vs. Android – How Close is the Battle?

Mon 27 January 2014 Written by Evi

Apple had an easy run with the introduction of the iPhone - at the time, if you wanted a smartphone you bought an Apple product or you didn’t get one at all. However, it hasn’t taken that long for competing products to appear on the market - Blackberry hasn’t moved with the times and subsequently RIM has been sold off due to declining market share. Microsoft’s mobile operating system seems to be suffering from a similar fate, and even though the tech giant has purchased Nokia’s handset division – there are no signs of the trend reversing. That leaves the relatively new kid on the block, Android, slugging it out with Apple for the smartphone market share. It’s time to catch up on that battle and see the outcomes at the moment in terms of market share, paid applications and free applications as well as revenue on those applications.

Market Share

Well it’s clear that Android is winning in the market share stakes. Android now holds a whopping 53% market share in the US and a similarly high percentage in other markets. Apple is back in 2nd place with 40%. The other 7% is split between BlackBerry (3rd), Microsoft (4th) and “others” in 5th.

Smartphones themselves are increasingly the only choice for consumers, and the overall penetration of smartphones is at about 70% in developed markets. The big potential market for increased sales is the over-55 age group where there’s been fairly consistent resistance to adoption. Only around 50% of over-55s are engaged with the platform in developed nations.

Applications – Paid Apps vs. Free Apps

Free apps are rapidly eating away at the paid application market place. Of course “free” doesn’t mean “no money made”, as there are plenty of adverts being served, millions of in-application purchases, and of course premium upgrades being made.

However, there’s no denying that people aren’t in a hurry to part with their cash and many more users are willing to deal with an imperfect user experience (including intrusive advertising) than they are to pay out money. It’s worth noting that Apple users are more inclined to pony up some cash for experience - the average iPhone application makes about 19 cents in revenue and the average iPad application 50 cents compared to a paltry 6 cents on average on the Android platform. This may also be a reflection of the adoption of Android in developing nations where Apple products are out of the financial reach of many purchasers.

Applications – Downloads and Revenue

Android may be winning the war for users but there’s no doubt at all that Apple is winning the war for revenue. In the last quarter, Android downloads through the Google Play store were 10% higher than those via the iOS store. Yet unfortunately for Google, Apple picked up nearly 2.3 times the revenue of the Google store.

This might not last. Apple’s market share is going to be on a steady decline now, with more and more manufacturers producing lower cost Android handsets - this is a given. So while Apple may be winning the revenue war at the moment, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a shift in Google’s favor in the near future.