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Who's The King of Mobile?

Coastal Computer - Thursday, February 18, 2016

Who’s the reigning king of mobile? It’s a question that gets different answers depending on who you ask. Android or iOS? In this article, we’ll look at the history of the mobile landscape, the latest research and what we’re seeing day to day. Time to place your bets, let’s see who the winner is!

iPhone Is 1st Out The Gate

The iPhone was the first smartphone and took the lead in market share right out the gate, practically defining a new category of phone when it was released in 2007. The G1 released in 2008, was the first phone to run Android and didn’t offer the same quality of experience, although it did appeal to a younger audience on a lower budget who still appreciated the built-in keyboard for texting at a time when messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp didn’t even exist.

iOS and iPhone v. Android and Many Phone Models

It’s important to note that the iPhone - the device itself, and iOS - the operating system or main software on the phone, are both produced by Apple. Android is an operating system or main software for phones produced by Google, however the phones which run Android are made by a number of manufacturers.

Apple’s integrated approach and Google’s variegated approach offer different benefits and drawbacks to people using their software and devices. This also confuses the question: who is the king of mobile? When iPhone and Android sales are compared, often the sales of iPhones are compared to the sales of all Android phones combined.

The iPhone Has Always Been the Best Selling Smartphone

When the iPhone is compared to any individual model of phone running Android, it always comes out on top. It’s only when all Android phone sales are combined that the iPhone appears to have competition.

5 Years Later and Android Takes the Lead

By 2012, there were enough companies making Android phones, and enough people buying them, that sales of all Android phones combined took the lead over iPhone sales. It seemed like iPhone was on the way out and Android was on the way in.

Actual Device Usage

While there are many — over 1 billion! — devices running Android, there’s speculation about how often these smartphones and tablets are actually used compared to iPhones and iPads. Even when Android phones started outselling iPhones, people still spent more time on their iPhones and iPads. Perhaps the integrated experience was better, or many Android devices saw limited use.

What We’ve Seen

In 2012 - 2013, we saw a flurry of Android devices and heard the talk that Android was on the way in and iPhone on the way out. Despite market share, what we saw in terms of use on WiFi networks we maintain was the Apple was still the king of mobile. We saw far more iOS devices - iPhones and iPads using WiFi networks than Android devices. Perhaps this was based on actual device usage as mentioned above, or the sales of iPhones and iPads through secondary channels helped put refurbished devices in the hands of people who couldn’t get the latest model.

Apple is the King of Mobile

Recent market share confirms what we’ve seen on WiFi networks and paints an incredible picture. Figures released this year show that in the US in Q4 of 2014, iPhone outsold Android. Bear in mind, this is iPhone models outselling all Android phone models combined! By broadening its iPhone product line while continuing to offer discounts on older models, Apple steadily regained market share. In some ways Apple was never knocked down from the throne because iPhones continued to outsell any individual phone from any other manufacturer.