Although it seems that there is a clear battle going on in the market for smartphone OS domination, there doesn’t seem to be much of a doubt as to who rules the roost.
As indicated in the graph above (from IDC), Android controls a whopping 82.8% of the market. It would be logical to conclude, then, that Android is also the most popular smartphone for downloading content. As indicated in our recent State of Digital Downloads consumer research that is exactly the case:
When asked “From what sources do you most often download,” (Figure 2) respondents answered in line with the smartphone OS market data from IDC—the Google Play Store (for Android software) ranks highest with 19.38% daily and 29.60% every few days. And this trend, of Android beating iOS, is borne out again when we asked respondents “From what device do you most often consume the content that you download?”
Again, it’s clear that Android is the winner with 27.86% daily responses (Figure 3).
But are they really? We don’t think so. The numbers just by themselves don’t tell the whole story.
If we take the IDC data into consideration, we should expect to see significantly higher numbers than we do in our research. But we see only slightly higher numbers than Apple (whether the iPhone or the iTunes store). What this seems to indicate is that Apple iPhone users are actually downloading more content relative to market penetration. Think about it this way:
- Android OS has 82.8% of the market share but Android phones have only 27.86% of the content consumption share.
- Apple has 13.9% of the market (according to the IDC graph) and 22.92% of the content consumption.
What’s happening here is two-fold. First, there has to be a rash of Android smartphones that are not being used to consume content. This could be demographically- or generationally-based—older generations that may not download or consume much content on their phone are none-the-less opting for Android-based smartphones in their cellular contracts (perhaps for the camera). To punctuate this generational difference in phone usage, simply look at the row in Figure 3 for “Microsoft Windows Computer.” 23.83% is greater than the iPhone number. But when we slice this data demographically (looking specifically at Millennials; graph not shown), iPhone rises to 32.35%, Android to 36.79%, and Windows Computers to 27.96%. It’s clear that the younger generations are using their smartphones as the primary content device. If lots of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers own Android devices, driving up overall percentage of market share, they may not be using it to consume content like Millennials are.
Second, the difference between market penetration and content consumption for both Android and iPhone seem to indicate that iPhone users download and consume more content per capita. Although iOS only has a 13.9% market share for smartphones, that 13.9% is using the device to download a lot of content—far more than Android smartphone owners. See, the revelation here is about ratios. The market-penetration-to-content-consumption ratio for Apple is very positive (13.9% : 22.92%) while the ratio for Android is much worse (82.8% : 27.86%). The goal is to have a greater propensity of people using the device to download content.
If Android were to have a content-consumption percentage closer to 90 or 95%, it would be easy to mark them the clear winner. Not only would they be the dominant OS in the smartphone market, but they would clearly be the more used device as well. But the numbers don't lie. If I were an application developer or a content owner targeting smartphones, I would definitely put my money on iOS.
Image courtesy of IBTimes