In the mobile device marketplace, even those outside the industry can tell you who the top two players are. Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating systems have a commanding lead both in the United States and around the world. We'd like to take a moment and go over the numbers in the bustling mobile market.
It might come as a surprise to some folks that Apple is no longer number one in the smartphone market. While it's true that Apple markets aggressively, and has their own chain of stores from which to sell their products, the fact is Android is available on many devices whereas iOS is only available on Apple products. This gives Android the distinct smartphone edge. MacRumors notes in a recent article that in the fourth quarter of 2012, Android accounted for almost 70% of global smartphone sales, with iOS trailing at just under 21%.
Probably not the greatest news for Apple, but unsurprising when you consider Android is licensed to Samsung, Nokia, ZTE, LG Electronics, Huawel Technologies, TCL Communication, Lenovo, Sony and Motorola, among others. Venture Beat quotes Strategy Analytics executive director Neil Mawston, who said, “Android is clearly the undisputed volume leader of the smartphone industry at the present time.”
Strictly speaking market share, the picture is similar. Forbes recently reported that in a December 2012 comScore survey, Android's US market share was 53.4%, with Apple at 36.3%. Apple is a strong second—and far out in front of the number three contender—but is clearly behind Android in US smartphone market share. Latino Post refers to a StatCounter Global Stats survey that has Android at just over 37% market share worldwide, with Apple trailing at 27.2%.
With tablets, it's a closer race. Information Week tells us that Apple's 2012 tablet market share was 51%, with Android following at 46%. However, they note—as do many other sources—that 2013 could be a different story.
CNETpredicts Android will become the leading tablet this coming year, with 48.% of market share, compared to Apple's 46%. It's neck-and-neck, and they say that won't change—but Android is projected to build and hold a slight lead.
We've got two points to consider here. Android's current edge is very likely due to the sheer volume of devices that run Android, since iOS is restricted solely to Apple products. However, Forbes points out that because of this, Apple profits from its hardware whereas Google doesn't. It's at this point where “winning” the mobile device market race becomes a little more fuzzy and subjective. Sometimes numbers can be hiding other factors, and it comes down to the individual reader and his or her priorities. Therefore, the interpretation of the numbers can yield seemingly different results.
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