Google’s Android Crushes Apple’s iOS In Smartphone Shipments–But Does It Matter? – Forbes.
Just four years after its debut,Google‘s Android mobile operating software now claims 75% of mobile units shipped, according to a new report from market researcher IDC.
In the third quarter, according to IDC, some 136 million Android handsets shipped, almost double the 71 million shipped in last year’s third quarter. Devices using Apple‘s iOS grew by a far lower 57%, to 26.9 million handsets, for a surprisingly low 15% market share. Don’t even ask about Blackberry or Windows Mobile. It’s a two-horse race for now.
Some folks wonder if this trend is heading toward a rerun of the Windows PC vs. the Mac. Maybe, and it’s got to be something that worries Apple CEO Tim Cook, who hardly wants to be the guy who let the mobile revolution get away.
But in the short to medium-term, it’s doubtful this is a killer for Apple. Why?
For one, Apple’s share was probably especially low in the last quarter because the eagerly awaited iPhone 5 didn’t ship until September, very late in the quarter. Add in new iPad models just introduced, in a holiday quarter when Apple devices are probably still the gift people would prefer to give over Android gadgets, and it’s hard to imagine that Apple won’t see some rebound in the fourth quarter.
For another, IDC is measuring shipments, which don’t immediately equate to sales–though ultimately they probably do. And profits are an entirely different matter. Clearly, Apple keeps minting money from iPhone and iPad sales, and it’s hard to see that changing anytime soon.
Third, actual usage of Apple’s iPhones and iPads continues to be way higher than usage of Android phones, punching well above their market-share weight. That indicates people are finding iPhones and iPads, or at least the apps on them, more useful than other devices. Apple’s app ecosystem is still considered stronger than Android’s. And that’s not even figuring in the fragmented nature of Android, which results in devices using a wide variety of Android OS versions that can’t all use the very same apps, depending on how they’re written.
What’s more, a new comScore report released today shows Apple has a 34.3% share of U.S. smartphone subscribers. While that’s below Google’s 52.5% share, the gap is much less, partly because of Apple’s early smartphone lead.
Still, the rapid rise of Android to near-dominance means Apple will have to step it up anew. As computing and communications increasingly migrate to mobile devices, Apple may not be able to afford offering only the smartphone equivalents of BMWs and Mercedes if it wants to continue driving the industry’s future.