From a distance, the horse race between Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android appears as if the open-source mobile operating system is a clear winner. However, a closer look reveals other levels of competition not so clearly defined.
Android unmistakably is the leader when it comes to the share of mobile devices being shipped. The inexpensive operating system is also ahead in attracting developing nations, such as India and China. But don’t cry for Apple, according to mobile advertising network Flurry. The iPhone maker tops Android for app usage, as well as profits…
“The number of Android devices we are tracking worldwide doubled in the past year, reaching 564 million as of April of 2013,” the firm writes at its blog. Although the share of iOS devices also grew during that time, “Android pulled ahead in active device share in late 2012 and has maintained that position ever since,” the company adds.
The statement only confirms what we’ve known: there are physically more Android-powered devices than Apple-branded alternatives. But what are those Android devices doing? One thing that aren’t doing is using apps.
“In spite of Android’s rapid rise and current lead in device market share, iOS continues to lead in terms of time spent in apps,” according to the company.
Why such a dichotomy in device usage?
Pretty simple, really.
People buying iOS devices were doing so to use iOS apps. Many people getting Android devices, on the other hand, received them for free when they upgraded from a older dumb phone. Apps were nice, but not the core reason for getting the Android phone.
Also, the Android ecosphere’s “fragmented nature” reduced developer interest in creating apps for the platform, a disinterest made only worse when few users updated their handsets to the newest software version.
Profit is also an area where Apple’s iOS is handily winning. Not only are more people using iOS apps, but those users tend to outspend Android owners on advertising and in-app purchases.
In other words, Android is winning the numbers game. Apple, on the other hand, “only” leads when it comes to usage, developers and profits.
Apple as of the WWDC 2013 keynote had 900,000 apps in the App Store, of which 375,000 are made specifically for the iPad. The App Store, which next month turns five, recently passed 50 billion downloads and Apple said it thus far paid to developers ten billion dollars.
I don’t know about you, but I’d be in Apple’s position any day.