Android outstripping iOS in ad impressions and device market share

By August 15, 2011Apple, Google, Mobile

On Friday I wrote about how I see the future for HTML5, native apps and Adroid vs OS.  The post stimulated a fair bit of debate which led me to check out how the operating system between Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android is playing out in the market place.  Looking at the latest data in this fast moving market, the overall answer is that Android is doing well, and better than I expected, with around half the market depending on how you count it and whose data you trust.

For me the best proxy for smartphone market share is mobile ad impressions.  This metric captures internet usage of the devices which makes it the best indicator of where the mobile computing market is headed.  By focusing on internet usage it filters out low end Android handsets that are little more than feature phones and people who have smartphones because they are cool to own, but don’t use them as mobile compute devices.  My thesis is that this fashion brigade will quickly shift to the next new shiny phone when it emerges.  The trouble with looking at ad impressions is that it ignores some app activity, but all round I see it as the best metric to use.

And on an ad impression basis focused on smartphones only Android is running at a 54% market share, with iOS a distant second at 26% (courtesy of mobilemix and Digital Trends):

SmartphoneImpressionOSMix

Using the more traditional metric of OS market share by devices sold Android is again out in front.  Gartner has them at 43% (table below) with the fast declining Symbian still holding second place ahead of iOS.  Canalys paints a similar picture with Android at a 48% market share and iOS taking the second place slot from Symbian last quarter at 19%.  All parties agree that the smartphone market continues to grow very fast and that within it Android is growing the fastest (i.e. gaining share).

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The best Android phones still don’t match the iPhone (and as I said on Friday my next phone will again be an iPhone), but with the scale advantages Android now enjoys I think it will only be a matter of time before their phones are the best.

On the tablet front Android only has a 20% market share and is still some way behind Apple who has just about all of the remaining 80% (as per ABI Research), but this market is much newer and it was only 6-9 months ago that the first mass market Android tablets hit the stores.

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