Regular readers will know that I like open systems and am keen to see Android emerge as serious competition to Apple’s iOS. In the middle of last year Android started passing iOS in terms of new connections per month and according to the Millenial Media report for January 2011 Android has now beaten iOS in terms of ad impressions for the last two months. This last point is particularly significant because it talks to usage of the mobile phone for browsing and is therefore a much better indicator that Android is really working as a mobile computing OS, rather than just a cheap OS for low end smartphones.
All that said, there is still some way for Android to go before it can match the iPhone in terms of its developer ecosystem. The measure here is number of apps downloaded and the Apple App Store is still way out in front of the competition accounting for a whopping 89% of mobile software market place traffic during 2010 according to research firm Allot Communications (GigaOM). Android will only have truly caught up iOS once app sales/downloads from the combined Android market places match Apple’s App Store sales, and to do that they will have to get make it easier for consumers to buy apps and transact in game.
That day may not be too far away though, at least that is what some notable investors are thinking. Getjar, the leading independent mobile app store, has just announced that it raised $25m from Accel and Tiger Global Management.
If I was running Apple (and I’m open to offers…) then I would be worried about my ability to maintain a lock on the high end of the mobile phone market and what parity with Android might mean for my margins on device sales and third party software bought through my app stores. It would appear, however, that the holders of Apple stock are not too worried, as they have now pushed the value of the company’s stock to $331bn, a full $100bn more than Microsoft, which is the world’s second most valuable tech company.