Apple’s iPhone remains by far the top-selling smartphone while Android is still the leading mobile operating system. This means that the mobile sweepstakes seems to have stabilized with two clear winners.
This does not imply that the mobility race is over–not by any means. Windows Phone is still in the early going, and BlackBerry has generated some positive buzz that could presage a revival of its fortunes. Moreover, the race is not just about phone handsets: Tablet devices are a distinct marketplace. And new technologies wait in the wings, notably Google Glass and Apple’s broadly hinted-at iWatch.
A Two-Horse Race in the Smartphone Market
Having made all those provisos, Apple and Android–in slightly different ways–share dominance over the mobile phone handset market.
As Charlie Osborne reports at CNET, Apple’s iPhone remains the leading handset by a wide margin, commanding 39.2 percent of the market. In fact–and notably–the iPhone’s market share increased by 1.4 percent in the three months from February through April. By comparison, its share in the previous three months was 37.8 percent.
In solid second place is Samsung, with an even 22 percent of the market. It too registered growth, up by 0.6 percent from 21.4 percent in the previous three months. No other manufacturer registered in double digits, and the next three in order (HTC, Motorola, and LG) all showed slippage in market share.
Comparing Apples and Oranges–or Androids
To be sure, comparing rival Android handset manufacturers to Apple is, well, an Apples-to-oranges (or at least Androids) comparison. If you want an iOS phone, there is only one place to go for it. And in Apple’s philosophy that is exactly the point. The device and its software are bound together in a single experience.
With Android, not so much. In fact, not even slightly as much. Even if you buy a “pure” Android phone, the experience will be shaped partly by the manufacturer. But at the same time, it is not clear that either individual manufacturers, or even Android itself, has anything like the brand presence (and mystique) of Apple.
Moreover, device sales (often subsidized by wireless carriers) do not tell the whole story. Usage statistics suggest that iPhone users make much more intensive use of their devices. Many Android devices are used simply as phones, their owners rarely if ever utilizing their Android capabilities. This may be changing, however, as Android strengthens its presence at the high end, offering devices that rival the iPhone in features and performance.
And in the big picture, it seems pretty clear that both Apple’s iOS and Android are here to stay and will retain their shared dominance of the smartphone market for some time to come.