Technologizer

Who’s Winning, iOS or Android? All the Numbers, All in One Place

A comprehensive look at the competitive situation, from unit sales to profit margins.

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Left, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller introduces the iPhone 5 on Sept. 12, 2012. Samsung CEO J.K. Shin brandishes two Galaxy S4 phones at the product launch on March 14, 2013

Who’s winning the mobile platform wars, Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android?

It’s one of the blogosphere’s favorite tech topics. Every new nugget of competitive information is fodder for an avalanche of coverage. Oftentimes, a story will declare that Android is beating iOS or that iOS is beating Android.

Really, though, it’s silly to obsess over any one data point. If what you’re after is a clear idea of how the world’s two dominant mobile operating systems are doing — rather than an excuse to make bold proclamations and/or cheer for your favorite — you want to consider lots of data points.

So that’s what I’m doing in this post. I’ve rustled up results from a bunch of studies, focusing on information that’s relatively fresh. (In some cases, it dates from the fourth quarter of 2012 — stats for the first quarter of this year are still scarce.)

A few notes on this exercise:

I’m not really going to look at changes over time. Trajectories are important, but there’s a limit to how much I can do in one story.

I won’t do deep analysis of why the numbers look the way they do. I’m collecting rather than interpreting, though I hope that some of you will draw conclusions in the comments.

I’m not going to include specific numbers for anything other than iOS and Android. Sorry, Windows Phone and BlackBerry — I’ll come back to you and how you’re doing at some point, I promise.

I won’t include forecasts and other predictions. I don’t believe in ‘em.

I’m not endorsing any of these studies. That’s dangerous unless you have a thorough knowledge of the methodology behind the numbers. Which I don’t.

Without any further ado, here are some key competitive questions, and the answers as provided by various research firms.

Which platform is selling the most smartphones?

In research conducted from mid-November through mid-February, Kantar Worldpanel Comtech showed sales of all Android phones outpacing the iPhone by a hefty margin: 52.1 percent to 43.5 percent. However, judging from past Kantar studies, these figures may be more of a freeze-frame of the competition at one particular point in time than a permanent reality: last year, Kantar had Android in the lead for a spell, and then it said that iOS had bounced back into first place.

Then there’s Comscore’s MobiLens study, which attempts to measure the smartphone platforms used by everyone in the U.S. over the age of 13 —  not just ones sold recently, but everything. The numbers it released this month are pretty similar to Kantar’s.

That’s the U.S. — how about everywhere else?

Worldwide, all those companies making Android phones sell a lot more units than Apple sells of the iPhone, says IDC. In the fourth quarter of 2012, Android had more than 70 percent share, vs. 21 percent for the iPhone.

And tablets?

Tablet shipment data is harder to come by than data for phones, and the most recent specific numbers by platform I could find were IDC’s full-year estimates for 2012, which it released on December 5 of last year. They had demand for 7″ Android tablets adding up to a decrease in the iPad’s dominance — but iOS still remained the most popular tablet operating system.

Which companies are selling the most smartphones?

Worldwide, according to IDC, Samsung — which deals primarily, but not exclusively in Android models — was the top manufacturer in the fourth quarter of last year, unit-wise. Apple was in second place.

In the U.S., however, Strategy Analytics says that Apple’s iPhone shipments outpaced Samsung. (Strategy Analytics says that its numbers are for “mobile phones,” so they may include plain ol’ flip phones as well as smartphones.)

Who’s making money selling smartphones?

As you might guess from the above two charts, Apple and Samsung are the ones raking in the bucks, says Canaccord Genuity. And Apple is raking in far more of them than Samsung, taking 72 percent of the profit in the last quarter of 2012. Samsung made 29 percent of the industry’s profit — mostly for Android phones, although it also has Windows Phone handsets. Everybody else in the business, including Android-centric makers such as HTC and Motorola, either broke even or lost money — which is why Apple and Samsung’s profits add up to more than 100 percent.

 

genuity

Which platform has the most apps?

After years of obsessing over the sheer quantity of apps available for these two platforms, the numbers seem to be similar, and similarly impressive, on both sides. Both Apple and Google currently claim more than 800,000 third-party programs for their respective platform.
apps

What do the numbers look like for tablet-specific apps?

For iOS, Apple says there are more than 300,000 iPad-optimized programs. For Android: I wish I knew! As far as I know, Google hasn’t disclosed this number. But it’s safe to say that it remains piddling compared to Apple’s figure.

O.K., who has the best apps?

I hesitate to bring this up, because app quality is inherently subjective. But a company called uTest uses a system called Applause to crawl Apple’s App Store and Google’s Google Play, collecting user reviews and rankings. It then turns this data into scores from 1 to 100 for individual apps, and calculates average scores for each platform. In data published in a ReadWrite story in January, it said that the average iOS app, with a score of 68.5, is superior to the average Android app, at 63.3.
utest

Which platform’s users are downloading the most apps?

According to Canalys, just over half of all apps downloaded in the first quarter of this year were for Android. iOS, at about 40 percent share, was the only other big-time player.

Who’s making money from app downloads?

According to Canalys’s data for the first quarter of this year, iOS users are spending much more on apps even if they’re downloading fewer of them overall.

Which platform gets used most on the Internet?

NetMarketShare publishes monthly stats on which browsers and operating systems are being used on the Net. Its report for March 2013 says that among mobile devices, iOS rules with 60.1 percent share. Android is way behind at 24.9 percent. Given that there are more Android devices out there, the data suggests that iOS users are disproportionately active online.
But here’s something weird: StatCounter, which does a similar study, comes up with numbers that are nothing like NetMarketShare’s. Its figures for March show Android usage easily outpacing iOS. Of course, the two organizations’ methodology may be radically different; I’m not sure, for instance, whether both, either or neither of them include the iPad in these numbers. But the disparity is a healthy reminder that it’s risky to draw conclusions from data you don’t know very much about.

Which platform is more widely used in business, iOS or Android?

A Citrix report covering the fourth quarter of 2012 comes as close to addressing this question as any recent study I’ve seen. It covers Citrix customers that “have deployed enterprise mobility management in the cloud,” and shows iOS as trouncing Android and everything else.

So who is winning — iOS or Android?

You had to ask, huh?

On some level, it’s too crude a question to take very seriously. There are just too many ways to define “winning,” and neither platform leads in every area. But here’s the closest thing to an objective answer I can manage.

“Android if you’re talking about market share; iOS if you mean financial success. So far, this is a strikingly different market than the PC business back in the 1990s, when market share translated directly into financial success.”

You, of course, are entitled to come to a different conclusion — and if you do, I hope you’ll share it in the comments.

MORE: Today Is the First Day of the Rest of Android’s Life

283 comments
ManojManohar
ManojManohar

I would like the competition to go on..so that both parties develop their products rapidly and to make more sales they will reduce the price ;)

Freely
Freely

iPhone just VERY OVERPRICE !!!

That the most dissapointed point from Apple ...

I can bought a Yamaha/Honda 125cc Motorcycle in my country even cheaper than Apple phone/tablet =_=

No doubt if apple profit is the best than other brands

iPhone 5S 64GB for IDR 14.800.000 ???

that's really jokes

I bet if Apple never decrease the price, someday Android will bury iOS forever like that happened to symbian.

and also people love open source


hope they listen constumers

JonathonBevan
JonathonBevan

It is like comparing two fine cheeses. There are just too many factors to consider. It is obviously a close race. But the market for app developers is huge. Even though the software sells dirt cheap :( I have posted a far simpler article that roughly comes to the same conclusion on my own blogg. http://jonathonbevan.wordpress.com/ I will put a link to this artilce on my blogg next time I update it, probably tomorrow.. As this research is better than I did in the two hours I spent on the issue :) My site is about Android Application Development - but everyone is always interested in this question and I am not taking sides.

barzia.j.tehrani
barzia.j.tehrani

I like the no win situation.  I just hope no one would ever be a clear winner and competition continue.   

ExplodingFist
ExplodingFist

Bit of a late comment on this but...My view is that Android's primary attraction (and corresponding devices) is that it's cheap.  However, there are a number of things, I believe, that are going to start to work against it - it doesn't work as well as iOS (e.g. updates can result in irritating problems with phones), the fact that Google records everything you do and joins up all of your data in the background also isn't good.


Also, in my experience the Android handsets I've had tend to be buggy.  I've had 2 Galaxy S2s, an HTC one and a Galaxy S3 - all developed problems ranging from screen failures (no not from dropping it when drunk!) to an overheating comms unit to data loss (one of my phones completely deleted everything on the SD card - i.e. to the point where a file recovery programme couldn't recover files).  


So all in all, I think Android is cheaper, but it's inferior.  My iPhone is much better.  Samsung is frankly poor quality.  Apple has the correct strategy - it should be about financial performance, not market share.  Apple will continue to go from strength to strength, as will Android, but selling to different markets, and Apple will continue to provide the better product.



brianmoreau
brianmoreau

And yet we still have developers building only for iPhone!

modees
modees

in my point of view the question is where is the future will go , short answer is Android WHY. the massively freely availability to all other mobile phone manufacturer is Android and surely the power comes where too many comparator in the market using same technology, in regards to Apple i think they will needs to achieve a very hard goal which is fighting against all other competitor who using android, in other word if HTC hasn't make a huge success as HTC one Then Samsung note 3 will ect..  along  other company so there will be always someone to nail it from Android , in other hand the iPhone 5s is massive disappointment to apple user include myself but i am using both , any way IOS is strictly for Apple only so if apple hasn't make a huge improved to overcome all other Android operator then IOS will fail. i do believe that apple trying very hard to keep the sales number at the top even when it isn't the truth . this is my own opinion,i am not with or against .Thanks for reading and comment

mxlandry
mxlandry

I would be curious to get people's point of view on this;
This article proved that Apple is the best financially.
But does the smarphone users believe that IOS is worth the big bucks?

I am an Android Fan but do agree that IOS has some positive.

DennisHenderson
DennisHenderson

open source vs proprietary, we all know who eventually wins this.



jmerci3ca
jmerci3ca

Many many arguments from both sides of the fence. Android fans as well as Apple fans. the fact that Google maybe ranking bigger and selling many more Android units is largely down to the fact that Android handsets start at £69 ($80) and hit the mass market with people from all age groups. Apple's products are very expensive for what you get. Are Apple's products actually any better? That is each persons preference and thoughts. But Apple is a niche market, regardless weather 48 million iphone 5 were sold in the first few weeks. Most ipads and iphones are purchased subsidised on a contract because £545 is a huge cost to pay off contract. A basic Mac book or iMac  is 3 times the cost of what you can get from Windows, regardless of weather they are better or not! 

Android will always hold a bigger market share and sell more because of their strategy. They sell ads from any device running anything Google.

Apple cater for a niche market, The only real difference between companies like Apple, Microsoft and Google is that Apple dont sell ads or bundle bloatware into their products. 

Ever thought how much US TV would cost per year to the viewer if you had no ads every 15 minutes? Precisely why in the UK we have to pay a hefty license fee to watch BBC. No ads...  

I have used Galaxy Note 2, Galaxy S3 and S4 without any problems at all. I also have the 5 and 5S and never a problem. So a large majority of these devices are as reliable as each other. Again it's down to personal choice, there are no winners, just different companies have very different strategies.

iKronologizer
iKronologizer

You still cherry picked quarters to showcase Apple's best quarter in a year where Android blew right past Apple's iOS. In fact Samsung alone blew right past Apple's smartphone sales on the calender year by over 30%. If you included this year's projections in an honest portrayal in this mobile OS war, you'd see that SAMSUNG will most likely double Apple's smartphone sales even with their so called cheaper plastic phone!

joseph.corley
joseph.corley

Harry McCracken brings up the most important point that everyone seems to overlook.  Statistics are only as good as the data collected, and the more data points you collect the better chance you give a better representation of what "really is happening".  Also, if you do not know how the data was collected and what the data represents, then what's the point of looking at it at all?  Looking at the example of what platform is most widely used.  How could two statistics pull up radically different results?  Obviously they didn't measure the same things to get to the different outcomes, but what did they measure, and how did they measure it?  Your guess is probably as good as mine.  Looking at the first example of which device is outselling the other.  I think this is the most misleading stat of them all.  Why?  Lets say in January a new Android device is released.  I would expect that January would be the best month and for it to slowly decline from there over the next couple months.  Not lets say Apple released a device in April.  When if you compare April sales from Apple and for the Android device, I wouldn't be surprised if Apple won simply because I would have expected the bulk of the Android sales to have occurred in January/February and it would have tapered off by April.  So, to compare sales figures, I would argue that you need measure each device during it's release cycle, to compare how sales did during their device releases, not at some arbitrary time, as there may have been new devices released by one manufacture and not the other, so I would expect the manufacture that released a device to have better sales then someone that did not.  So let's say Android really did take up 80% of the market share.  What does that even mean?  80% of the total devices sold are Android?  Well my family owns 7 Android devices, but we currently use none of them.  We own 2 iOS devices and a regular non-smart phone.  So Android has the leg up here, 3.5 times the market share right?  Well, none of them are being used as they were all replaced, so really they hold 0%.

KennethRoryDunn
KennethRoryDunn

I have owned and used both the iPhone 5 and the Samsung S4 but at separate times as my only phone and this is what I have to say...


If you want a phone that will never let you down, that will need to be setup once and never again, that will need to be switched on and never need a reboot in it's life, you want the iPhone 5.


If you want a phone that's going to wow you with features, keep you entertained and spark your inner curiosity to figure out what more the device can do and won't mind the phone randomly rebooting from time to time, you want the Samsung S4.


I think this is a fair comparison based on the fact that they are both flagship devices from the two closest competing companies, both released around the same time and both cost around the same amount of money. I don't think you can determine what is better when it comes to iOS vs. Android (at least at this point in time) but you can most definitely identify which will be better suited for you. (You may even prefer Windows Mobile...LMFAO!!!)

AlexNorman
AlexNorman

Apple will lose! No Jobs - no Apple. Selling same phone 5 times and just changing body not going to work for long time. Even in US smart ones are getting Samsung and it is much more useful, better quality and more variety to chose from sizes, functionality. iPhone just got one and the same over the years.

apsley
apsley

Interesting article.  I develop apps for both systems.  Clearly there is room in the market for two systems, and that is what we have got.  Advantages and disadvantages to each.  As to what will happen in the future, I think that iOS will gradually decline in terms of market share until it is simply a niche player, like OS X and Windows.

w.reyes67
w.reyes67

This is very intersting. Apple has a different gameplay but at the end this is a business.. and business are made to gain profits.. I don't think Market share is a big deal if you can't manage to have MORE befenit/profits .. so hands down Apple wins.

Elfinberry
Elfinberry

In my opinion it doesn't really matter who is "winning," that's the wrong question to be asking. The better question to ask is which one is actually better overall. Since the hardware in an Android phone varies you'd have to simply look at the software. Both IOS and Android bring some get ideas and features to the table. and after talking to a number of people, some of which like IOS and some like Android, it really comes down to personal preference.

If you want a phone that lets you do a lot of great things without having to worry about configuration or settings or really actually understanding how the phone works then  the Iphone is for you. If you want to be able to customize everything and have full control of your phone then get an Android. For the vast majority of people I think they would be happy with either an Iphone or an Android.

tieblumer
tieblumer

Where is the chart "people killed by mobile explosion?"

poopstech
poopstech

70% of your charts are missing from this page.  May be you like to a take look there!  Also why is it that you compare iOS that is sold by ONE COMPANY with Android that is sold by 20+ manufacturers?  WHY?  Compare Apple to Samsung or Motorola, etc.  You will find that iOS will win in ANY COMPETITOR that you put against it including Samsung.

Shaedo
Shaedo

Something to consider:  As Google make their revenue almost exclusively through advertising the amount of money spent on apps is of little concern for them. If iPhone users are spending more time on the internet and still being exposed to Google's advertisements and data collection then both Google and Apple are happy. Google is arguably only 'interested' in the sales of Android because they don't want a single company (ie Apple) with too much control over peoples exposure to Google's advertisements/data collection. Even the advent of the first mobile phone by Motorola/Google is orientated towards preventing any single company from gaining too much control over people viewing Google ads. Apple is in the business of selling hardware. Google is in the business of selling advertising. The 'competition' we perceive between them is largely insubstantial: the competition between 'units sold' is actually between the various phone manufacturers (eg Apple, Samsung etc); the competition between 'apps sold' has largely evaporated as more and more developers produce for both products.

CoreyBrowning
CoreyBrowning

Its Google vs Apple is what I feel was missed. I am sorry but Google wins and will always win.

TyroneLeopold
TyroneLeopold

Android would easily win these. Almost everyone that I know uses android phone and only a little percent I know who uses iOS phones

VinylJedi
VinylJedi

Remember the statements made by IBM back in the 1960's

testacular
testacular

In the end, upon asking how to truly define the concept of winning, they should have just stuck a big fat picture of Charlie Sheen and ended there. Imo. 

JoseEncarnacion
JoseEncarnacion

People have to realize that iOS is just one platform but android has like a billion different phones one for poor people one for your average joe and one for people that has a lot of income that's not even fair in my opinion apple is leading in every single category because is just one phone and one tablet!

nwoodward813
nwoodward813

@Alexkain why would you care for a phone with twice the ram speed and still slower than a iPhone? If you put the same speed in an iPhone it would seriously embarrass the galazy

OrangeCrush
OrangeCrush

Ignorant much? It's a known fact that iOS is buggy crashes more than Android. You pay more for a hackaround OS, a tin can and a logo, you call that innovative? I call it a reflection of your overall education level. And your experience doesn't matter, because the only people who have your problems are the only ones who actually want to be negative and pessimistic. Take your selfish and lazy ideas and push them on to a crowd who will actually buy your antiquated ideological BS.

JoeLarsen
JoeLarsen

@brianmoreau  thats because people get paid way more for apple apps, its easier to code, and there are more people to help you learn to code. Xcode is one of the easiest tools to make an app and its free. Android you need to either learn Java script or some C#. Apple you done even need to code, however if you want to all C# work as-well.

JoeLarsen
JoeLarsen

@mxlandry  sorry I'm a year late… but here you go. Apple users are willing to spend $$ on classy devices and apps, so there are more apps. Pretty simple, if you are willing to spend $$ on it its worth it… if not its not. 

JoeLarsen
JoeLarsen

@DennisHenderson  Thats what i thought at first, and it still might be right — however there is a massive bug on the open source called google and they are sucking all your privacy.

OluwaseunTonyShokunbi
OluwaseunTonyShokunbi

I like your comment Aspley! in the true sense, that was what the Apple product was know for before now. i dont think Steve Jobs was interested in playing in the very large market. he just wanted to develop a product that suited a few top class niche - little wonder they dont come cheaply! And like you have rightly said, i think the Apple will retreat back to that small niche they had carved....

FrozenMangoJobs
FrozenMangoJobs

@w.reyes67 I agree. Why be in business if you can't make money? It's unsustainable. Though it has a smaller market share, Apple stomps the competition when it comes to profits. Apple has never needed market share to become more valuable than Microsoft, Google, or any other tech company. The company making the most $$$ is the winner (I know, I know, we're comparing products here, but the 'fittest' company's products will win, no question).

OluwaseunTonyShokunbi
OluwaseunTonyShokunbi

Yes, the charts are correct. Android is Open Source, iOS is not. So its one against several...

oscar2b12
oscar2b12

@poopstech BECAUSE IT IS OS AGAINST OS!  Just like in the computer side.  It was Apple vs Windows.  Not our fault Apple does not want to play with anyone.  Look how many companies made Windows based machines!  You do know what the i stands for in iOS, IPhone or Ipad right?? 

tieblumer
tieblumer

@poopstech IOS and Android = software; iphone and 20+manufacturers = hardware. 2 different things.

By the way it's Apple's chooice to be the only company to produce Iphones. Charts are correct.

DKM62
DKM62

@JoseEncarnacion What an argument.  Whose devices cost the most?  Apple may have had one phone and one tablet, but they were and are premium priced (including their cheapie version).  


You think it's not fair that some people can afford an expensive phone and others can't?  So those who earn college degrees and work their way up in the corporate world can't spend their own money?  Oh, that's right.  They're supposed to give that money to those who didn't bother...

TheGlobalAggregator
TheGlobalAggregator

@JoseEncarnacion


Let the people speak! Android Rocks.......Apple could have done the same thing making a phone for people across the board, so why do it now? because they are losing.......

I remember at one of the competitor conferences when they laugh when android announced they was giving the phone software away to phone makers instead of the $15 per phone charge that the others charge.....The comment went like this....What would we look like going to the board of directors talking about giving a phone away............They didn't understand it than, but they understand it now!

This comments speaks volume because you couldn't get a ipones no where except apple or atnt when they was making money. Now they open it to other store because there seriously losing.

I have 3 line with my android carrier, and talk with many agent in stores and they tell me that the iphone isn't selling worth a dime........

Google is a very humble company and has a very humble approach, updates with new features monthly to make your experience the best. 

Google is Innovative and willing to buy where they are short!

I will give Apple less than one year to survive before closing store nationwide!...........Also, when you have the Military, airlines and other going public that they are now using the Ipad than you know that they are hurting....... with almost 90% of their monies off shore and than talk about manufacturing in the USA.....

They have lied to the people for so long that they believe it will work.....Not no more!

I love the 27' monitor they made about 5 years ago cost about $3000, I have the 27' imac and it sucks but good for winter because it give off so much heat I wouldn't be surprise that it will blow up like there phone has been known to do! Before the Samsung position I purchased a Samsung 25.5 in monitor and it is still going strong with average 6 hours of daily use and sometime 8 hours sleep mode weekly....Hands down I give credit where credit is due....

Apple head was into the cloud for years, rightly so! They made all the money off of the artist in itunes who was silly enough to pay them instead of building and driving people to their own site.......All and all Apple time is ticking and I don' believe in Karma, but how can you create when you stole everything this is proof!

Finally, sued for 50 million which they paid for stilling the name Ipad, and they originally purchase the ipad from china and improved it. History has spoken!

Apple is making a cheap phone now, and who care the name is more historic than anything else, and with the updates with all of its product last year ended with marginal sales told them that it was over...

I forgot one, the engine in the ipad mini was lower than the Samsung Galaxy 2 phone several years ago, innovative, yell right!

The Global Aggregator ( Project Research)

Read more: http://techland.time.com/2013/04/16/ios-vs-android/#ixzz2bTjhLiew

BellaAngel
BellaAngel

@JoseEncarnacion Not to mention where in free market is "fair" an established business plan. If Apple wants to service the "poor" people as you so eloquently put it, they could. They don't want to. Their business model is to service the elite. Which has worked for them in the past. Hopefully with the new Samsung products Android users will get more pull in the market. Most everyone I know buys an "iPhone" because it's the "status" thing to do, like having a Prada or Gucci bag. Well there's a new phone in town and it's the Hermes Belkin... Hello Note II. I wouldn't TAKE an iPhone other than to sell it to someone. I had one, went to android a few years back... haven't second guessed my decision since. Oh an Jose... it's not just for "Poor" people, because the Note II costs more than the dumb iPhone and does WAY more. It practically makes my coffee in the morning.

Ziplock9000
Ziplock9000

@JoseEncarnacionThat just means Android is more flexible. You have to suck it up and realise Android is vastly outselling iOS

nwoodward813
nwoodward813

@JoeLarsen Well first off, C# is not as hard as C++ to code in. Most OS is designed in C++/ Xcode may be easier than C# or Java, but that doesn't excuse the fact that Apple has more exclusive apps, better functionality, and looks 10x better, and even extra features when the share the same app. 

JoeLarsen
JoeLarsen

@brianmoreau  Think about it this way, do you think that people who are looking for the cheapest phone will want to pay big $$ for your app? How about people who are willing to spend $$ freely on new products?

LordDan
LordDan

@FrozenMangoJobs @w.reyes67  No one is accounting for the money made from the ads here.  Yes, from the standpoint of profits from the sale of the device alone, Apple has the lead, but the long-term income from the sale of the device for the parent company (Apple vs Google), I think the margins are far closer than noted here.  I don't have any proof of this - but it seems to make sense that you don't make money from just the device sale - you make it from the after-market sales too (and advertising needs to be counted in that realm - something that Apple has $0 of revenues going for them).

voodoodidaleedo
voodoodidaleedo

@w.reyes67 @CoreyBrowning google does win.Check out the forbes top 60 billionaires and you will see page and brin's networth.Combine that with statistics and anyone can conclude that google wins.

AdamChew1
AdamChew1

@BellaAngel 

Need not to feel so insecure that you are using android and need to broadcast it to the world and at eh same time disparage the iphone.

No one care whatever we use.