Why Google & Android will prevail over Apple & iOS

by: Simon HillNovember 26, 2012

The Android platform is completely dominating the smartphone market. Google has a firm grasp on what consumers want. With a market share of 72.4 percent worldwide in Q3 2012 the Android platform has gained an unstoppable momentum. Second place iOS is a long way back at 13.9 percent. How has the platform grown so dominant and why will Google and Android continue to win the hearts and minds of consumers over Apple and iOS?

Is it, as this blog post suggests, because Google is getting better at design faster than Apple is getting better at web services? We think that’s definitely a contributing factor, but there are other reasons that Android will prevail over iOS.

Winning the web

Since the original iPhone came out in 2007 the way that we use mobile phones has changed drastically. They have become multi-purpose tools that we use for everything from playing games and listening to music, to taking photos and writing emails. The trend toward online connectivity and away from calls and texts has led carriers to scrap unlimited data plans. It’s now quite common to get unlimited calls and texts, but be charged according to how much data you want. The data is where the profit is.

A report by UK carrier O2 revealed that making calls is the fifth most frequent use for a smartphone behind browsing the Internet, checking social networks, playing games, and listening to music. People spent an average of 25 minutes per day browsing the web, 17 minutes on social networks, and just 12 minutes on calls.

Is it any wonder that the search engine giant with its own social network has created a more popular platform than the hardware focused design specialist? Google’s range of web based services is second to none. Consider Google Docs, Gmail, Google Maps, Google Music, Google+, Google Chrome, and how well they mesh with Android. Google’s cloud services are easy to use and they “just work”. The worst you can say about them is that the user experience is not always very polished.

Now take a look at Apple and iOS with its dependence on iTunes, problems with iCloud and MobileMe, FaceTime and iTunes Match randomly going down, duplicate contacts, syncing errors, and email downtime. Apple Maps is clearly inferior to Google Maps. Apple’s attempt at a social network, Ping, which Jobs described as “sort of like Facebook and Twitter meet iTunes”, was a complete failure.

To cut a long story short Apple fails at the web and it’s not showing any real signs of improving. Google is comfortably winning the web and, since that’s the main use people have for smartphones now, Android is a better choice than iOS.

What about design?

Apple has always been lauded for its design prowess. The hardware and software looks good and it’s easy to use. Android may have started out as an ugly cousin, but the platform has improved immensely since the 2008 debut. While Apple seems to have been frozen by the old “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mantra, Android has continued to innovate.

Looking at the latest version of Android it’s no longer credible to argue that iOS is far superior, or that it offers a better user experience. Apple is stagnating while Google is getting better at design all the time.

On the hardware front Android has benefitted and suffered from having a large pool of device manufacturers. There have been some gorgeous releases and some forgettable failures. That range of choice to suit different budgets has undoubtedly been a major driver of the platform, but it has also led to a more fragmented experience.

Even with the failures, Android devices represent a much wider choice for consumers. The iPhone has evolved very slowly, but you can clearly recognize each release as part of the same family. A wider choice of devices is obviously going to appeal to a wider group of people.

Divergent aims

While Google and Android increase market share with every passing quarter we have to acknowledge that Apple and iOS have a different game plan. Android is already prevailing over iOS and it will continue to beat it in terms of numbers of users, but Apple is focused on a different set of numbers. If we look back at the beginning of 2011, Apple claimed just 4 percent of the mobile phone market, but raked in more than half of all the profits.

The truth is that Apple can be the most profitable company while serving a niche because it maintains tight control over the hardware and ecosystem and claims the lion’s share of the cash that generates. Google is not set up to generate that kind of profit, even with a much greater share of the market. The two companies, and their platforms, are not really aiming for the same things.

What happens when the market hits saturation?

One of the interesting things about Android’s rise is that it has largely come about at the expense of RIM and Nokia. As the smartphone market has exploded across the world there has been plenty of room for both Android and iOS to grow. The market shares have changed, but the overall size of the market has been increasing all the time. When it hits a ceiling we’ll be able to see more clearly when people are switching from iOS to Android and vice versa.

If Apple hasn’t sorted out its Internet services by then Google and Android may be unstoppable. There’s no doubt Apple will continue to rake in the cash from a loyal fan base, but if it continues to lag behind with the web and cuts superior Google services out of iOS, that loyalty could really be put to the test. Android is improving faster than iOS and it already prevails. That doesn’t mean we’ll see Apple and iOS disappear, but slowing to a jog while your opponent sprints further into the distance is a flawed strategy.

  • I remember my step brother got the first android device ever made right when it came out and it was absolutly terrible.But now I am very happy with my droid razr maxx hd

    • Markus Ressel

      I startet with an iPad 2 when Tablets were “young” and now since Android has evolved a lot I switched to an Galaxy Nexus/ Nexus 10 combo.
      I thank Apple for starting this evolution but now Google is far ahead.

  • Ryan MORGAN

    Third paragraph, “The trend toward online connectivity” , “carriers to scrap unlimited data plans”. This doesn’t add up. I think you meant carrier have introduced unlimited data plans, or something to that effect.

    • Simon Hill

      Yeah it does add up, in that carriers charged for call minutes when we mostly used our smartphones for calls, but now that we are mostly using them for data carriers like AT&T and Verizon have switched to metered data and offer it with unlimited calls because they know they’ll make more money that way.

    • Lagal

      The biggest cellular company in the world, México’s Telcel (owned by the richest man in the world, Carlos Slim who even owns more than half of the cellular business in America: i mean AMERICA the continent = US, Canada, México, Guatemala, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Chile, Argentina, Colombia, etcetera) began with an unlimited data plan, heck it wasn’t even called a plan, you just had unlimited data.

      He decided to charge for minutes, then he noticed that people reduced their time on the phone to avoid consuming their minutes (he introduced the “prepaid” concept to the world 20-30 or more years ago), so he decided to charge for seconds instead of full minutes and people increased their time in each call.

      A few years ago people’s tendencies were to use more the internet to make calls in their smartphones with Skype, because they had unlimited data transfer, so he decided to introduce data plans, scrapped the unlimited data and gave people “unlimited calls within the company for the first 5 minutes to local and roaming calls” but the data plans now were sold.

      Sure, you can have unlimited data plans but it will cost you a premier amount of money.

      Being said that, US companies began to do that, in order to increase their earnings now that people has decided to not use the phone to… erm… phone hehehe.


      • Tee Dee

        Well here in the UK we’re very lucky to have the ‘3’ network, which have unlimited data plans and don’t cost a premier amount of money.

  • The funny thing is when I get my girlfriend’s iPhone 4 and I go to the App store and I check the Youtube app to read the reviews as it has, at the moment, 2.5 stars only.
    People are so sheep over there that they blame Google for removing the native app from iOS when the reality is totally different…
    Those ones will never leave Apple, they are totally “brand blind”.

    • MasterMuffin

      Damn dem iSheep

      • On a Clear Day

        People are not buying the iPhone because they think it is better; they truly are buying it because they are seeing their friends buying it.

        Given they didn’t really think before they bought and are basically proud of it, it is unlikely that any amount of reasoning, facts or figures will dissuade them from not continuing to believe that Apple really does represent the best value – but you know what they say, there is nothing that can be done about a lack of intelligence or knee jerk ignorance.

        • MasterMuffin

          That’s so true, my friend was thinking about buying a gnote 2 but then his friend bought iPhone and now he bought iPhone too….

  • Ronnnn

    It’s the prices, stupid

    • William

      It’s more than just the prices.

  • Tyrel ting

    Wow thought I was gonna see a bunch of iSheep commenting but you can’t fight the truth Apple may have wrote the script but now Google’s running the show

  • The 2 reasons why Android has become dominant is because it is: 1) open source 2) price. Simple as that. Imagine if iOS was open source & low priced.. things would have been very different. As much as we would hate it, that’s how it is.

    • Shuruj

      You have to give Google a lot of credit too. They have made all their awesome web services (not open source) free for Android manufacturers that they couldn’t find any match out their in the market. There are plenty other open source phone OS but Google wins the race because they put their best efforts more than all other mobile OS combined. Android is immensely a diverse OS (a LINUX OS) that can be used *EASILY* for any computing intensive hardware… I’m waiting for the day when we will have connected home appliances with regular price range; and I believe Android will lead that trend.

    • we would have seen more iOS devices but none of them would work as well as iPhone does. it would have the same sorts of problems android has now. maybe not so big but it would suffer from fragmentation, lags on certain devices and so on

  • chuebner

    I just switched from an iPhone 4 to a Galaxy Note 2. While I liked the iPhone I think I have simply outgrown it. As the article correctly states it is just too limited in too many respects. Tiny screen with hard to use keyboard, proprietary connectors, iTunes required to put music on, spotty cloud offering and a host of other reasons prompted me to finally switch. I expected a lot from the Galaxy Note 2, but the device measures up to the expectations and in some areas even surpasses them.
    Unless Apple shapes up and ditches some of the proprietary nonsense, they are in for a rough time when the market hits the predicted ceiling.

    • Kirk Winterrowd

      That’s good to hear. I have an iPhone4 and have been thinking about getting the Galaxy Note 2 as well but was not sure about making the switch. I just got a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 to kind of dip my toes into the Android water before making the 2 year contract switch with my phone, but I think I feel pretty confident that I will like it, The Note 2 should give me the combo of a phone and tablet, since it has been a pain carrying both my iPhone and iPad. Plus the extra features of the Note 2 will help make some things I do for my job easier.

      • Darknut

        My elder cousin (in IT) had the iP5, hes had iPhone since the 3g came out, but now: after 3 weeks he got his hands on the Note 2, and hasnt looked back since. Hes sold the iP5, and moved on to a much better platform.

  • I agree with your conclusion but not based on how you arrived at it. The iPhone is the first Apple device I owned. I am switching to the GN2 this week.

    Android has the market share it has because it is open-source. Not because it has the best features. The truth is that most users could not tell you why one is better than the other. They just use their phone and it works. We are geeks and pay close attention to features.

    I’m willing to bet that if you walk up to 10 people and ask “Does the iPhone 5 have 32 or 64GB or RAM?” most would have no idea because they do not care.

    They care about how it looks and does it work. Simple as that.

    No double that Apple has played the biggest role in developing a mobile phone market that we can all be proud of but until they release more frequent phones, they will continue to lose market share.

    • Daz Bones

      32 GB of RAM? And you even DARE call yourself a geek? Hell, I wish my PC had that much.

      • Well, either he made a mistake, or he was being serious, which if he was, just proves his point on how most people will probably say “I don’t know” instead of pointing out his mistake like you did.

      • On a Clear Day

        Dah, Might it be that he was referring to a 32 GB SD card. Why be nasty?

        • Matt

          Why would he be referring to an SD card mate? Ram ≠ SD Card ≠ HDD space ≠ SSD space. But I get your point :)

      • sh4d0w.phantom

        He’s asking that to technologically illiterate people. If they know what he’s talking about, surely they can see that.

  • JayJBK

    Android winning because of Google services? RIDICULOUS. For one, it’s not like none of those Google services is available for iPhones. More importantly, you ignore the dominance of Android in China’s sub $200 market, where few if any of those Google services is actually used. Android’s market share gain is almost entirely due to their positioning in low price, mass market segment. If you look at high-end (pricewise) smartphone market, Apple still has 40-50% share.

    • Lagal

      That’s what he said, Apple has a bigger profit margin because they decided to increase the price to a point where just their fanboys would think its appropiate.

      Apple sells less iOS devices in 3 years than all the Android devices sold in one year, but yet they have higher profits, because they know their fanboys are willing to overpay.

      Google on the other hand has decided to make valid the Pareto principle, which it states that in any given social and economic distribution there is an 80-20 rule (percentages can vary), where 80% of the populations of something owns just 20% of a characteristic, while the other 20% of the population owns 80% of that characteristic.

      Or put into simple words that even macFanboys can understand:

      iOS devices represents less than 20% of the population but owns (or has) the bigger percentage of profits made.

      Android devices on the other hand is tending to 80% of the population and has a lesser percentage of profits.

      With that being said, Apple is destined to return to the cave where it belongs and lived for years, living off of fanboys who buy their overpriced products because they think its cool, and they might even fade in 4-5 years because other producers have taken a leading role as trend setters (Amazon and Barnes and Noble beat them to the punch in tablets with their e-book readers).

      Lets say you’re thirsty, would you rather buy a Fillico bottle of water imported from Japan for $100 dollars or would you rather buy an Evian bottle of water for half a dollar? Both products are water, both do their work (get rid of your thirst), but one is overpriced because it is from a manantial in Kobe, Japan and the other while overpriced when compared to an arrowhead bottle of water, its closer to its real “value”.

      It is that simple, people opt to overpay to stay in a certain nichè and to belong to a section of society, specially in developed countries because their personal relations grow impersonal year after year and feel a need to “belong”. While the rest you can call them the “smart people” who make “wise decisions” more in tune to their needs.

      • Ya boiii

        In short, you’re a snob.

      • JayJBK

        Look at what you are doing. You are portraying Apple products as $100 bottle of water from Japan and Android products as 50 cent bottle of store brand water. That’s a 200 times price difference. If you take that ratio to smartphones, then a typical iPhone would cost as much as a 60-80k luxury car, or a typical Android phone would cost as much as a cup of mocha latte. That is completely out of reality and you are delusional if you think that is really the case.

        Make valid Pareto principle? That’s a load of crap. Google/Amazon/B&N aren’t selling devices at or near cost to prove some principle. They are doing so because they have different business models. Google makes money from ads, and that requires people using Google services (it’s like how a TV network makes more money if more people watches its programs). So to Google, getting as much market share as possible is vital to its financial health. Take Amazon or B&N. Their livelihood depends on people buying books from them. But as media distribution (books, movies, music) moves to digital, they face the future where their business gets severely eroded by digital competition. So they are trying to lock in as many customers as possible to their commerce platforms, so they can keep on operating as a going concern. None of these companies wants to charge any premium for the devices because they want to bring in as much customers as possible to their platforms.

        Apple on the other hand, depends on profits made from device sales. So it cannot compete with Google et al on prices. It has to make its products attractive enough to consumers so that they would be willing to pay premium for their goods. This is also true for any other device manufacturers, like Samsung, HTC, Motorola. They all have to make as much profits as possible from device sales. And if you compare ASPs for their products by segments, you would find that the price differential is at most 20% in most cases, and often times none when contract subsidies get factored in. It’s nowhere near the 20000% as you suggest, and Apple won’t become irrelevant because their products are too overpriced, because they are not.

        Returning to my original point, iOS has much lower market share because it does not have any presence in the lower end of the market. Said another way, Android has much larger share because it totally owns the lower end of the market, where it sometimes exists as a different form out of Google’s control. And Apple will be fine as long as it can maintain its share in the mid-to-high end of the market because that market is huge in itself.

        One more thing. Apple isn’t the only company chasing after the profitable high-end (or the “20%” you put) of the market. Samsung is also selling their GS3 and GS Notes at similarly high prices and fabulous margins and making boatloads of money. And every other device manufacturer wants a piece of that market as well. So stop your delusional thinking that Apple is the only one selling “overpriced” stuff that is doomed to fall because nobody else is doing that. Even in PC market there exists sub-500 pcs and pcs that cost well over $1000. It’s horrendously ridiculous to suggest that there will only be a single low-end segment for a market with annual unit sales of 6-7 billion.

        • Apple loses money, breaks even, or barely profits on the production of their mobile hardware just like sony does on playstation and microsoft on xbox. The money is made by the sales of apps (games for the consoles) just like the service providers make their profit on our monthly charges. The designing, tooling, cost of producing new chips, &c are all costs that go into these devices. Just the cost of the engineers annually likely costs apple tens of millions of dollars when there is possibly over 200 engineers (hardware and software focusing solely on ios and iphone design. at an average of only $65,000 a year (probaibly grossly underestimated but bringing only their top teir in house design team into account over 12 million) plus tooling and materials, shipping, taxes and general labor Apple would have to continue to move tens of millions of untis to make a significant profit on their devices. Apple likely spends millions on lawyers as well…

  • Michael

    Before i start i have to say that i should not have bought the macbook air. It is the worst peice of technology and i feel i’m using a dinosaur. i runs hot (cook an egg) when watching youtube videos.
    I own an apple macbook air. The logic board went out. They replaced it under apple care. 8 months later the sound card went out which is on the logic board. They said its out of the 90 day period. Point: apple fans are jumping ship because no only is apple controlling with the ios services ( not allowing google maps) but quality control issues and apple was willing to reject my request to have a 1599 dollar+ apple care 250 dollars=1950 computer to be fixed. not worth it to me to be an apple fan anymore. should a logic board last longer than 8 months. i’ve been with apple since 1990 or so, when my mbair when out and visiting the ip5..my thought..apple is getting boring. i plan on buying the gn2 for a phone. my next computer will be a galaxy note 10.1 with a 29 inch monitor or so with keyboard for home use.
    I have really enjoyed using android starting for the first time at the end of october 2012.

  • Daytimehoe

    As a person like myself that jumped ship from ios to android months ago, I couldn’t be happier with my decision. I previously owned a Iphone 3gs and Iphone 4. I didnt see a reason to get a 4s. Was not impressed at all. At the same time my brother and had the HTC Evo and didn’t like it at all. Lagged to much and never considered the switch to Android. Well over the summer I was in the market to get a new phone, was going to wait for the Iphone 5 but decided to go to the Sprint to switch from ATT due to unlimited everything. While I was there I fell in love with the Samsung GS3. Felt so smooth and fast. Was very impressed with what Android was doing. So I pulled the trigger and got one. So glad I got one. Love every aspect of Android. Convinced my brother, best friend and girlfriend to pick up a GS3. Time and time again people ask is that the Galaxy S3 and i tell them with a big smile, YES. Looking back at the Iphone, yes it was a good device…. 4 years ago. Now it’s behind the 8-ball. I like to poke fun at my friends who have the Iphone and they get tired of it. Android is the future and I love how it keeps being innovative. I’m not a fan boy just a person who will was on ios for a long time and kick myself for ignoring android for a long time. Keep up the amazing work android….

    Btw I just recently picked up a Nexus 7, and couldn’t be happier with it….

  • This is a very thoughtful and organized offense against Apple – and I’ll have to think very hard about it. I’m trying to add iCloud to my app right now and I have to backtrack and learn so many unfamiliar techniques it’s unreal. But in all fairness to Apple that’s because I only develop when I can (about 10 hours a week) and haven’t kept up with their coolest stuff. Like ARC for memory management and Grand Central Dispatch for multiprocessing.

    But speaking as an Apple fanboy I have to say you’ve got a lot of problems with what I call the “smash and grab” strategy of Android makers. This is nonsense I would never put up with in a million years. There’s the famous “Apple can’t multiprocess” thing, where – sure! – Android could multiprocess. But it burned up power.

    Sure. The Galaxy S III has a huge screen. But it’s shoddily implemented and gets slaughtered by the iPhone 5. That baby has the most beautifully calibrated screen I’ve ever seen in my life. It not only runs rings around the S III, but it even humiliates my old iPhone 4 – something Apple never even mentions.

    And… I’m sorry… but the S III is too damn big for me and anyone else about my size and smaller. (I’m a 5’9″ male.) Where I work on my daytime job we’re very serious about ergonomics. So when I rest my hand in what is known as the “neutral position” – relaxed; sitting the way it wants to be if it didn’t have to do anything – and then slide that iPhone 5 in there such that it JUST opens my hand enough to naturally close around it, I know I’ve got a perfect ergonomic fit. The S III is heavier, wider, and thicker than the iPhone 5 – about 20% across the board. I don’t need it.

    I’m serious. I don’t have to use a single muscle to keep a grip on that phone. It’s ridiculously light for something that’s so powerful. I only have to actually GRIP it if I shake my hand hard enough or when my hand gets sweaty. Even then I don’t REALLY have to grip it. All I gotta do is slide my pinkie under it and it’s Problem Solved.

    Another smash and grab? “We can put in a card that expands it to 128 Gig memory!!” Well whup-de-doo for your Subaru. You know what I tell everyone buying an iPad or iPhone? Don’t waste your money on anything more than 32 Gig of memory. You’ve got high speed internet, iCloud, and unlimited iTunes storage in that cloud free of charge. 32 gig is more than you’ll ever need.

    Unless you’re a pack rat. Not exactly a problem you can blame Apple for.

    Then there’s Samsung bragging about the high clock speed of the S III’s chip. That’s just silly. Who cares what your clock speed is if the competitor’s gets so much more work done in every cycle that it more than makes up for the difference in cycles per second? The best a quad core SIII running at a higher clock speed can do against a dual core A6 is fight it to a standstill.

    Apple technology isn’t just a little better than Samsung’s. It’s a LOT better. If they built a quad-core iPhone sized the same as the S III it would send that little boy crying to its momma.

    But this happens all the time. And you Android fanboys blow it off. That’s cool. But when and if Apple ever fixes the problems you’ve very adroitly trained your spotlight on?

    Android is toast.

    • th3

      Not using a muscle? Slides right in? Sweathy hands? You even have names for your sitting position? Wat kind of pathetic excuse for a man are you?? Thats so distgusting to think there are people like you, now i wanna throw up just by thinking of an iphone. Wow, you are really something and it aint healthy

  • Wally Mahar

    I hate them all. Have you ever tried loading 20-90 apps on your droid? Droid2? Droid Bionic? SAMSUNG GALAXY III, top of the line galaxy nexus 7????

    I cant stand this freezing and typing sluggishness everything else that always inevitably happens on these devices. And no one knows why!!! I have not seen one article that explains how this happens definitely. “clear this cache”, “turn off this maybe”…I DONT WONT TO TRY. I WANT TO KNOW WHY. “check your apps in the background.” i did. nothing is running…well a lot is…5% this and 1% that…it has no rhyme or reason…why offer 50 billion apps if I cant run 100.

    Where is the website that actually reviews these apps if they are mailicious? I want to see: “Install of this app created a 50% increase in start time of other apps and system functions” Where is the app that you can run that will test all these apps?

    Is it even possible? will this slowing off the system only happen magically when there is a certain mix off apps running on the hardware that each in itself cause no problems at all???

    GEEZ LOUIS this phone/tablet thing is a 1ghz processor and a5 inch screen with resolution I had on my desktop a decade ago .

    For years my desktop was running a full fledged OS/Photoshop..etc with a HUGE screen and was running at 1ghz and below. This google os is a sloppy un-optimized mess that windows has no comparison too.

    Windows is going down..or I would at least look at their phone…. Apple was at its best with its closed tight OS and other could create affordable hardware that had to work or no one bought it. I am just sick and tired of reformatting my phone more than I ever had too compared to my windows hardware.

    Apple only needs to get itself in gear a little with web intergration/design and could blast by google os which is rotten at it’s core . Disclaimer: I am too poor to be a apple user, have no app design expertise whatsoever. I am just frustrated as hell.

  • SmedleyDog

    Apple = Betamax.

  • The Android OS runs on loads of different phones that are all price ranges.There’s no way Apple can compete with just one expensive phone.