Linked by Matthew Johnson on Tue 31st Jan 2012 22:24 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless In its analysis of last year's smartphone market in the U.S., NPD found that market share for Apple's iOS went up following the release of the iPhone 4S, to 43 percent of all smartphone sales in October and November from 26 percent in the third quarter. Android, meanwhile, retained its lead, but lost market share towards the end of the year, dropping in October and November to 47 percent from 60 percent in the previous quarter. These are some dramatic shifts in market share but what do they really mean to you and me?
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amadensor
Member since:
2006-04-10

Their numbers jumped because they came out with a new phone, and people wanted the new one. They do this once a year. in order to get any sense of reality, you would need to start from the launch of the iPhone 4 and go until just before the release of the 4S. Since new Android phones are released about every half hour, their release cycle is not an issue. If you want to see how the 4S affected things, you would need to look at a period from now back to the same amount of time after the 4 was released (to account for the shiny new gadget syndrome.)

None of this accounts for how long an Android user keeps the same phone as compared to how long and Apple user keeps the same phone, so even getting realistic sales numbers does not equate to market share.

If you want market share, you need to look at devices currently in use. In the the USA this is possible, since the carriers generally know what phone you are using, but in the land of unlocked phones, even that does not work.

If there were a website that were heavily trafficked, and neither hip (Apple heavy) nor nerdy (Android heavy) then maybe that would work. Maybe the server logs for Wikipedia or Facebook are the best real indicator.

Reply Score: 4

David Member since:
1997-10-01

Very true. However, I don't believe iPhones were counted in these numbers.

Reply Score: 1

jared_wilkes Member since:
2011-04-25

You're ignoring the fact that iPhone 4 sales increased sequentially quarter-over-quarter for 4 out of 5 quarters of flagship availability, outselling the latest and greatest Android phones to this day, 18 months later (at least in the US, and highly likely in several other major markets).

Reply Score: 1

jared_wilkes Member since:
2011-04-25

Moreover, this shows your bias: "you would need to start from the launch of the iPhone 4 and go until just before the release of the 4S."

Why wouldn't you also exclude the tail end of a product cycle as well when this also skews things? This too is an observable, repeating trend.

Or better yet: just take a full year's result that will include the up- and down-draft of a product cycle.

Edited 2012-02-01 03:09 UTC

Reply Score: 1

No it isnt Member since:
2005-11-14

Exactly. So taking one data point and calling it a trend is simply dishonest. I'm willing to bet Apple will be down again Q1 2012.

Reply Score: 3

Beta Member since:
2005-07-06

So taking one data point and calling it a trend is simply dishonest.

+1

Reply Score: 2

Tony Swash Member since:
2009-08-22

Their numbers jumped because they came out with a new phone, and people wanted the new one. They do this once a year. in order to get any sense of reality, you would need to start from the launch of the iPhone 4 and go until just before the release of the 4S. Since new Android phones are released about every half hour, their release cycle is not an issue. If you want to see how the 4S affected things, you would need to look at a period from now back to the same amount of time after the 4 was released (to account for the shiny new gadget syndrome.)

None of this accounts for how long an Android user keeps the same phone as compared to how long and Apple user keeps the same phone, so even getting realistic sales numbers does not equate to market share.

If you want market share, you need to look at devices currently in use. In the the USA this is possible, since the carriers generally know what phone you are using, but in the land of unlocked phones, even that does not work.

If there were a website that were heavily trafficked, and neither hip (Apple heavy) nor nerdy (Android heavy) then maybe that would work. Maybe the server logs for Wikipedia or Facebook are the best real indicator.


If you look at the graph here showing Apple's unit sales by product per quarter going back to 2002 my interpretation of the iPhone line is that it is trending very strongly and consistently up with slight dips prior to each phones launch. If the trend continues then the iPhone sales figures from the last quarter will become the new base line figure for the 2012 quarters.

I also found it interesting that the iPad has just overtaken the iPod for units sold, one is gently decking the other is shooting up.

Reply Score: 2

Tony Swash Member since:
2009-08-22

Forgot to link to graph - oops - sorry - here it is

http://frncs.co/apple/

Reply Score: 2

developers, developers, developers
by kristoph on Tue 31st Jan 2012 23:13 UTC
kristoph
Member since:
2006-01-01

I want to address your point about developers using statistics to understand which platform they should support/build for.

In general, your assessment is not quite accurate.

The overriding decision to support or not to support a platform is a financial one.

A platform with poor market share - say Windows Phone - might be supported because Microsoft is willing to provide financial and placement incentives to support the app.

In contrast a platform with great market share - like Android - may not be supported because it's very difficult to make money from software sold to Android users. At the very least Android takes a back seat to, say, iOS, because the revenue opportunity per installed device is tangibly smaller.

So we happen to support iOS because it makes us money organically and we will support Windows phones and tablets because Microsoft is willing to help out. Android will be supported eventually (we have a bunch of devices and we have software we've deployed for it) but it's certainly not a priority because it's just not a great revenue earner.

Reply Score: 3

Tony Swash Member since:
2009-08-22

I agree that using market share as a proxy for the factors that determine whether a given platform has a healthy OS ecosystem or not, or a viable and healthy future or not, is not that useful. It's a left over metric from the PC days when it was the metric. Market is not irrelevant but just not that central anymore, other key metrics (developer focus, profitability, the availability of third party software and peripherals, etc) have become detached from market share, market share no longer drives those metrics.

Reply Score: 2

Bill and Clay ruined the discussion
by jared_wilkes on Wed 1st Feb 2012 03:03 UTC
jared_wilkes
Member since:
2011-04-25

The success of Microsoft through the eighties and nineties and the strength of Clay Christensen's Innovator's Dilemma (which is flawed and in its first incarnation focused too heavily on economic disruption from below, and the commensurate network effects, rather than true innovation) have completely blurred out the true discussion. People are too quick to be reductionist, black-and-white, winner-take-all.

The real question is: What is required to make a platform sustainable? Is there a threshold for market share sustainability? Platform profitability? Development ease, speed, and cost? Are there other network effects beyond masses of users? Etc.

If you can arrive at intelligent answers to these questions, market share becomes less of a focus.

Reply Score: 2

There's no one number
by phoehne on Wed 1st Feb 2012 05:44 UTC
phoehne
Member since:
2006-08-26

You have to look at various numbers, including numbers like ad impressions and average app store revenue per subscriber. The person getting a free 3GS or low end Android may not really spend much money on applications or spend a lot of time on the web.

Also, as a developer you need to understand what your market is. In some cases you have a market that's defined by specific features. For example, you might develop apps for government customers that require FIPS 140 certified devices. In which case Android and iPhone may not be viable. Or, you may need features like Near Field Communications (not on the iPhone - if I remember correctly).

So you can't look at one number and say "that's a better platform" any more than you can look at horsepower and say one car is better than another.

Reply Score: 2

RE: There's no one number
by zima on Tue 7th Feb 2012 23:55 UTC in reply to "There's no one number"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

The person getting a free 3GS or low end Android may not really spend much money on applications or spend a lot of time on the web.

I don't know... I'd say somebody who gets tricked, by contracts, into thinking their phone is "free" might be also relatively profligate with apps or web.

Probably more than the person paying full price for their phone, and who is on prepaid - like most of 5+ billion mobile subscribers.

(yeah, generally, don't call it "free" / that's what marketers want you to do / language delineates thinking)

Reply Score: 2

Serious flaw
by mjtomlin on Wed 1st Feb 2012 06:13 UTC
mjtomlin
Member since:
2010-08-31

You're missing a huge piece of the iOS equation and that's iPod touches and iPads. Both of which add significantly to the platform. Apple sold 60+ million iOS devices last quarter.

Also there is Apple's ability to offer OS upgrades directly to customers and the last upgrade was made available to almost 200 million devices in use. And that is extremely important to developers; being able to target the latest OS when it is released.

Reply Score: 2

The benefit of statistics.
by spiderman on Wed 1st Feb 2012 07:41 UTC
spiderman
Member since:
2008-10-23

They can help developers understand usage trends so they know where to allocate resources

The market share is a almost useless to developers. What they want to know is the spending power of the users, the saturation of the market, etc.
One user is not equal with one other.
For instance, iPhone buyers typically are willing to spend more money on their phone and apps, or they wouldn't have bought an iPhone. On the other hand, the Crapps market is pretty saturated and it's hard to differenciate in that market.
They help consumers make better buying decisions based on which platform is most likely to get developer support

You are dreaming. Consumers are buying a product that is planned to be obsolete in the next year and they know it.

Edited 2012-02-01 07:42 UTC

Reply Score: 5

1 Billion Android devices 5-10 years
by fran on Wed 1st Feb 2012 09:16 UTC
fran
Member since:
2010-08-06

Android device sales will rocket in the next two to three years. With components becoming so cheap smartphones will replace feature phones in it's entirety.
There is 4.6 billion mobile phone users in 2010. Most of them replace their phone 2-4 years. Most of these people does fall into Apple's market demographic.
Its not unrealistic that the Android phone market will be 4.6/3=1.5 Billion in say 5-10 years. Let's be conservative and truncate that to 1 Billion and not take into account the growth of cell phone subscribers over 2010 in the next few years also.

The argument is really mute. iOS will be a big niche market player in a few years if they don't lower their prices.

Edited 2012-02-01 09:20 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Most of these people does fall into Apple's market demographic.


Nitpick; don't you mean "does not"?

Reply Score: 3

fran Member since:
2010-08-06

Yes, damn, to late for edit now

Reply Score: 3

steve_s Member since:
2006-01-16

Apple have kept the iPhone 3GS available in order to provide a low-cost option...

The fact that components for smart phones are becoming increasingly cheaper applies just as much to iPhones as well as Android phones. I would not be surprised to see Apple replace the 3GS with a different low-end model later this year.

Reply Score: 1

unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

Apple have kept the iPhone 3GS available in order to provide a low-cost option...


The iPhone 3GS is still very expensive unless it is subsidised by a carrier. It costs AUD429 outright in Australia. This is 4x the price of similar Android hardware such as the Huawei X3 (AUD99).

The fact that components for smart phones are becoming increasingly cheaper applies just as much to iPhones as well as Android phones. I would not be surprised to see Apple replace the 3GS with a different low-end model later this year.


Apple can't compete with $50 Android phones. Apple is already losing marketshare very quickly in China.

Edited 2012-02-02 04:46 UTC

Reply Score: 2

steve_s Member since:
2006-01-16

You're right of course - the 3GS isn't cheap when paid for outright. Very few people do that though, and most get a phone that's subsidised by their carrier. Often that means that you'll end up on a more expensive talk plan though.

As for Apple not being able to compete with $50 Android phones, well, if an Android phone can be manufactured for $50 then an iOS phone can too. Apple is making a choice to not make phones so cheap though.

And on Apple losing marketshare very quickly in China, I don't really buy that, at least not in any meaningful way. Apple have only been selling iPhones in China for just over a year, and on only one carrier (not a particularly big one), so they have not had time to build up a significant marketshare there yet.

Reply Score: 1

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

the 3GS isn't cheap when paid for outright. Very few people do that though, and most get a phone that's subsidised by their carrier

Most of the world is on prepaid, and owns their phones. Snap out of looking at larger situation via the perspective of your very atypical place.

As to "kept the iPhone 3GS available in order to provide a low-cost option" - nothing Apple does is really low-cost. They target maybe most "premium" 5% of people; and sometimes (when trying to go further) even shown their inability to compete in broader market - now Apple even openly states they just won't compete in it, they won't target "lesser" people.

Reply Score: 2

phoehne Member since:
2006-08-26

A lot of people harp on price, but that's only part of the equation. Consumers don't just look at price when they buy a product. It depends on how you slice the market. If you're looking at all phones, that's one market. If you're looking at premium phones, then that's a different market. In some ways price can define the market. In other ways price is almost irrelevant.

There are a number of consumers that don't want to pay for a phone when they get a contract and will not buy a phone because it's an extra $20. They aren't loyal consumers and place no value on the product. They probably just use the phone as (gasp!) a phone and not to run a lot of apps or browse the web. Saying they are Android users or are choosing Android is a little bit stretch, because they place zero value on the platform.

If they were willing to pay some amount (say $50) then you can say they are Android buyers but are price sensitive and might change their preference if a less expensive version of iPhone was available.

Other consumers expect to pay $200 (or more) at the time of purchase to have a premium phone. (Even if it's a matter of fashion and not a thorough vetting based on technical merits). I would say that's a different market and more interesting because you do have other factors that can come into play, such as brand loyalty. There may even come a day when we have to look at the cost of switching because you have to re-buy all your apps.

tl;dr
Price is only one component of the decision and may not be the most important, depending on how you define the market.

Reply Score: 1

unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

Do you realise that $20 is a weeks pay in many countries? Price is a huge issue for at least 80% of potential phone buyers.

Reply Score: 3

iOS sales increased, tl;dr
by Beta on Wed 1st Feb 2012 12:43 UTC
Beta
Member since:
2005-07-06

‘Android, meanwhile, retained its lead, but lost market share towards the end of the year’

No, its market share growth reduced, it still has the lead in market share and sales ‐ comprehension is so very important.
Here, have an image:

http://tctechcrunch2011.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/os-share-npd.pn...

Reply Score: 5

RE: iOS sales increased, tl;dr
by steve_s on Wed 1st Feb 2012 14:57 UTC in reply to "iOS sales increased, tl;dr"
steve_s Member since:
2006-01-16

Market share is about the percentage of sales, not the total number of sales. It's about how the market is shared out.

The graph that you have linked to shows pretty clearly that Android's share of the market went from 60% in Q3 2011 to 47% in Oct/Nov 2011. That's a loss of market share.

Had they gone from 20% share in Q1 to a 40% share in Q2 and onto a 47% share in Q3 then you could say that their market share growth reduced.

The quote you copied did clearly say that Android had retained its lead, and thus sold more products, but its market share had reduced...

Comprehension is so very important. ;-)

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: iOS sales increased, tl;dr
by Beta on Wed 1st Feb 2012 15:32 UTC in reply to "RE: iOS sales increased, tl;dr"
Beta Member since:
2005-07-06

Market share is about the percentage of sales, not the total number of sales. It's about how the market is shared out.

Sales are sales, market share is market share. It’s pretty easy to understand. Here quoting wikipedia: "Market share is the percentage of a market accounted for by a specific entity."

Android gained market share in Q4, they did not lose it ‐ it just did not gain as much as it had previously been gaining.

Had they gone from 20% share in Q1 to a 40% share in Q2 and onto a 47% share in Q3 then you could say that their market share growth reduced.

That is exactly what happened and my issue with this article ‐ it is based on the faulty premise that Android market share shrunk.

Reply Score: 4

rhavyn Member since:
2005-07-06

"Market share is about the percentage of sales, not the total number of sales. It's about how the market is shared out.

Sales are sales, market share is market share. It’s pretty easy to understand. Here quoting wikipedia: "Market share is the percentage of a market accounted for by a specific entity."
"

That is a definition of market share, however the one that is commonly used by business publications and analysts is:

"The percentage of an industry or market's total sales that is earned by a particular company over a specified time period."

http://www.investopedia.com/terms/m/marketshare.asp#ixzz1l95ZAoXt

Generally speaking, no one cares about install base (which is what the definition you're using would normally be called) because it gives no indication of how a company is doing now. Having a large install base doesn't help anyone if their competitors selling more units per quarter now.

Reply Score: 1

steve_s Member since:
2006-01-16

Sales are sales, market share is market share. It’s pretty easy to understand. Here quoting wikipedia: "Market share is the percentage of a market accounted for by a specific entity."

Android gained market share in Q4, they did not lose it ‐ it just did not gain as much as it had previously been gaining.


If you want to make the argument that Android's market share increased in Q4, it would help if you came up with a graph or data that backed up your assertion.

The graph you linked to very clearly shows the market share of Android (as a percentage of smartphone sales) reducing from 60% in Q3 2011 to 47% in Oct/Nov 2011.

47% is less than 60%.

"Had they gone from 20% share in Q1 to a 40% share in Q2 and onto a 47% share in Q3 then you could say that their market share growth reduced.

That is exactly what happened and my issue with this article ‐ it is based on the faulty premise that Android market share shrunk.
"

Look again at the figures on that graph that you linked to. The real figures for Android were 51% in Q1, 52% in Q2, 60% in Q3, and then 47% in Oct/Nov 2011.

It's only by ignoring the partial Q4 figures that you can say that the Android market share growth reduced.

It sounds to me as if you are trying to argue that the installed base (or total cumulative sales) of Android kept growing at a faster rate than their competitors. That the size of the "Android market" (i.e. the number of people to whom developers can sell applications) grew by more than any competitor in Q4. That assertion is backed up by the graph you linked to, and the stated fact that Android maintains the top market share position. That is a very different argument from the one you have been making though.

Reply Score: 1

Comment by unclefester
by unclefester on Thu 2nd Feb 2012 07:32 UTC
unclefester
Member since:
2007-01-13

These are some dramatic shifts in market share but what do they really mean to you and me?

A shift in the US market coinciding with Xmas and the release of a new iPhone. Who'd a thunkit?

Q1 2012 expect a further erosion of iOS marketshare to below Q3 2011.

Reply Score: 2