Mobility

Android nears 88% global market share, but Apple still makes more money

Android market share hit 87.5% in late 2016, according to new findings from Strategy Analytics. However, that doesn't necessarily hurt Apple.

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Image: iStockphoto/Pinkypills

When it comes to the smartphone OS of choice around the world, Google's Android is the clear winner. According to new data from Strategy Analytics, Android commanded an 87.5% market share in Q3 2016, compared to Apple's 12.1% in the same time frame.

In a press release announcing the findings, Linda Sui, a director at Strategy Analytics, said that overall smartphone shipments had grown to 375.4 million in Q3 2016. Sui also said in the release that this marked "the smartphone industry's fastest growth rate for a year."

Of those total shipments, Android represented 328.6 million units, iOS represented 45.5 million units, and other companies accounted for 1.3 million units. For Android, this counts as 10.3% year-over-year growth, and -5.2% year-over-year growth for Apple.

SEE: The state of mobile device security: Android vs. iOS (ZDNet)

To explain what the overall market looks like now, Strategy Analytics executive director Neil Mawston said the following in the press release: "Android's gain came at the expense of every major rival platform. Apple iOS lost ground to Android and dipped to 12 percent share worldwide in Q3 2016, due to a lackluster performance in China and Africa. BlackBerry and Microsoft Windows Phone have all but disappeared due to strategic shifts, while Tizen and other emerging platforms softened as a result of limited product portfolios and modest developer support."

The drop in Apple's iPhone sales is well-documented. In October 2016, Apple posted its first annual sales decline since 2001, driven in part by three consecutive quarters of falling iPhone sales and revenue.

However, despite the disparity in handset shipments, Apple apps remains well and above more profitable than their Android counterparts. An App Annie report from July 2016 claimed that, despite having half the number of app downloads as the Google Play Store, Apple's App Store generated twice the revenue.

Gartner analyst Tuong Nguyen said that Apple simply has a different strategy than Android when it comes to mobile. Android has a broader approach, while Apple's iOS primarily targets the high-end market, which limits its reach, Nguyen said.

"I also don't expect them to move down market in any significant way," Nguyen said. "Looking across their history and portfolio of offerings, they've always differentiated by focusing on the high-end."

Focusing on that high-end allows Apple to make more money in the margins, especially when it comes to storage upgrades, Nguyen said. But, that means they need to focus on selling customers on why their product is worth the extra money.

Additionally, the Android ecosystem is dealing with its own problems. Woody Oh, a director at Strategy Analytics, said in the press release that Android's lead in the market looks "unassailable," and the software is still attractive, but a host of challenges remain.

"The Android platform is getting overcrowded with hundreds of manufacturers, few Android device vendors make profits, and Google's new Pixel range is attacking its own hardware partners that made Android popular in the first place," Oh said in the press release.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Android market share grew to nearly 88% in Q3 2016, according to data from Strategy Analytics.
  2. Apple's market share fell down to 12.1% in the same time, leading to the company's first drop in sales since 2001.
  3. Still, Apple's App Store makes more money than the Google Play store, despite having half as many downloads.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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