A battle of wits: how Android surpassed iOS in 2013

On July 8, 2014

iosThere’s no argument more common in the mobile phone space — is Android or iOS better. There are of course subjective components to this question, but based on the latest market share numbers, it’s clear that Android is firmly winning this battle and looks like it’ll continue to do so in the future.

Comparing Q3 of 2013 to the same quarter in 2012 revealed that Android has captured more than 80 percent of the market share, while iOS comes in at 12.9 percent in second place. The more important metric is that Android phones shipped 51.3 percent more units in 2013 than in 2012, while iOS units only increased by 25.6 percent.

How Android is Capturing the Market

There are several alluring Android phones with strong sales that lead the Android charge. Google, Samsung, and LG are all large companies with resources that rival and exceed Apple. Instead of just competing with one of these giants, they have to compete with all of them simultaneously; a nearly impossible task.

Price and Performance

An iPhone retails for about $500, which is in the price range of a small portion of the market who are interested in the latest technology. The Samsung Galaxy S4 and the LG G2 both retail for similar amounts and offer similar performance for the value. If a user is looking for one of these three phones, it comes down to interface and software preference.

The extra high-end phones don’t account for the total market domination, though. The iPhones had a much stronger market position until the introduction of Google’s Nexus phones, which has taken Android options and market dominance to a new level.

The Pride of Google: The Nexus

The latest release from Google is the Nexus 5. For $350 you get a fully unlocked phone with performance specifications that match any $500+ alternative. Google has the resources to sell these phones at this ridiculous price as a loss leader, because a larger market share for Android will only strengthen Google’s other business positions.

An Amazing Variety of Options

While smartphones may have started with expensive phones for western countries, the ownership of smartphones has rapidly increased on a global scale. Old versions of the top of the line phones are popular among those who can’t afford the latest phone every time a new one comes out, which is a large part of the market. Even more importantly is that there are a variety of Android models that fit just about anyone’s price range, while iOS phones are targeted toward a specific subset of the market based on their price.

Companies like Blu and Verykool are working to bring cheaper Android phones from China to the U.S. market. While these phones don’t have the same level of performance as the leading phones, they’re great for casual users who just want a simple but effective interface. They retail in the States anywhere from $100 to $300, with many different options to allow almost every customer to find one they like the look of.

Future Competition to Android

While Android may be enjoying a large market share at the moment with strong prospects for the future, in the fast-changing world of technology, the market can change quickly. Apple will continue to fight for its key demographic, but there are also newer entrants to market that have the potential to be disruptive.

Microsoft’s expansion into the mobile market has begun with a solid start. The Windows phone has captured 3.6 percent of the market, which is promising for a first run. Microsoft has also put a lot of work into Office development on their Windows mobile phones and tablets, which could pay large dividends.

While Blackberry is currently struggling, the OS still makes up 1.7 perfect of the market share, and if put in the right hands could once again become a major player.

Has the Android versus iOS debate finally been settled? Further strengthening of market position of Android in the past year compared to the slowing growth of iOS puts Android firmly on top for the near future.