Android Mobile Usage (Finally) Surpasses Apple

Despite Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) Android's market domination, Android has had a difficult time converting its market share into smartphone usage. It wasnn't until near the end of 2012 before Android really began surpassing Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) smartphone usage share in terms of web traffic. Fast-forward a few months later and Android's usage share has reached 37%, far above Apple's approximate 25% share. Earlier this year, Apple senior VP Phil Schiller boasted how Apple controls 75% of the profit with just 20% of the share. Is Apple about to eat Schiller's words?

Key differences
Before we proclaim that Apple is flat-out losing to Android in nearly all aspects, there's an obvious difference between the businesses. For one, Apple is primarily engaged in selling high-end devices for a ridiculous markup and Google is more entrenched in the usage business above anything else. Although Android devices have begun to be collectively "used" more than Apple devices, it doesn't necessarily mean that Apple's profit share is drastically waning. It simply means that Android's existing users have begun to utilize their devices more as mobile computing devices. Naturally, that's a great thing for Google, which is banking on Google Search and its resulting mobile ad business to continue flourishing without the help of overly demanding partners.

Chicken or the egg
What came first: iOS developers or iOS users? To this day, the App Store remains more profitable per user than the Google Play Store, indicating that Apple developers aren't likely to immediately migrate over to Android. However, should Android continue to show evidence of increased usage, and its app revenue per capita starts rising, Apple may be at the mercy of developer attrition. Under this scenario, developers would be likely to prove most loyal to the ecosystem where they have the greatest chances of making the largest potential profit.

Turning a corner?
The running joke of Android has been that its users don't use their smartphone for smartphone purposes. Contrary to comedy, the evidence is beginning to suggest otherwise, indicating that Android users have become more acclimated with using their devices for mobile computing. I do, however, find it humorous to think it took Android needed nearly three times as many users than Apple, but I suppose it's always better to be late than never.

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  • Report this Comment On March 09, 2013, at 12:17 PM, bbrriilliiaanntt wrote:

    The latest numbers are iOS at 67% web traffic, Android at 33%. iOS actually increased 2%, Android down 2%. Chitika analytics? Where did you get your data?

  • Report this Comment On March 09, 2013, at 7:22 PM, TMFTopDown wrote:

    @bbrriilliiaanntt -- I'm only referring to smartphone usage here, which doesn't include tablets.

    Here's the source:

  • Report this Comment On March 09, 2013, at 10:15 PM, PhilNelwyn wrote:

    "Despite Google Android's market domination, Android has had a difficult time converting its market share into smartphone usage.


    Android's existing users have begun to utilize their devices more as mobile computing devices."

    Sounds like you're confusing market share with user base.

    Market share is just about shipments.

    The fact that Android surpassed iOS in terms of shipment means that it only started selling better, not that it suddenly had more users.

    As iOS had a much bigger user base, it's normal that it took some time for Android to catch up after it started selling better.

    These figures do not reflect a change in the use of smartphones, but only an increase in the number of users.

  • Report this Comment On March 10, 2013, at 12:50 PM, TMFTopDown wrote:

    @PhilNelwyn -- To clarify, smartphone web traffic from Android has finally surpassed iOS. It took Android a heck of a lot more market share to get to a greater traffic level than that of iOS, which could suggest that users have perhaps begun using their phones more as a mobile computing device.

    I think it's important for investors to recognize that Android's smartphone usage now generates more web traffic than iOS, which could have longer term implications for Apple and its developers migrating to greener pastures.

    --Steve Heller (TMFTopDown)

  • Report this Comment On March 11, 2013, at 7:24 PM, PhilNelwyn wrote:



    Thanks, but I had perfectly understood your mistake.

    I'll try to explain it in the simplest way possible... market share is not a number of users, it's just about sales.Android getting more market share than iOS doesn't mean that they had more users right away.

    Let's take a simple example: filling two glasses with a bottle of water.

    If I pour a drop of water in the first glass, which I'll call the Android glass, when I pour two drops in the iOS glass, then the Android glass will be only 25% full when the iOS glass is 50% full.

    Now let's inverse the flow rates.

    Two drops in the Android glass for one drop in the iOS glass. (that's the market share...)

    Does it mean that there's suddenly more water in the Android glass? (that's the number of users...)

    No. It will take some time for the Android glass to get as full as the iOS glass.

    And don't forget that iOS had already filled a few glasses before Android started pouring... ;)

    So again, these figures don't say much about how people use their smartphone, it's mainly about the number of users.

  • Report this Comment On March 13, 2013, at 4:45 PM, TMFTopDown wrote:

    @Phil --

    Sorry for the delay!

    Overall, Android has over 750 million users where iOS has about 500 million. That's a total amount of users, which includes both smartphone and tablet users. So yes, Android is likely to have more "drops" of water in their glass at this time.


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