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Android web share falls, Apple rises, and what that really means

Android's web share is down 13% from November and Apple is up 1%. But what does that really mean?
February 2, 2013
web share
The Android vs iOS battle will continue until one of them is gone. Given that is slowly losing its grasp on the mobile market, we’d be willing to bet that it won’t be Android that goes down first. However, new studies have come out showing that Apple controls the web share by nearly 40%.

Let’s observe the facts. Since November 2012, Android web share has fallen 13% while Apple’s web share as gone up 1%. According to CNNMoney’s Philip Elmer-DeWitt, this trend actually began in October when the iPhone 5 and the iPad Mini were released. This sparked skepticism that the shipping numbers that have been going around may be wrong.

For those who don’t know, the shipping numbers state that Android outsold iOS this year in both tablets and smartphones. More importantly, that Android now controls tablet market share as well as smartphones. This explains the skepticism that if Android is the king of every market share, then the web share should reflect that too. Since it doesn’t, well, you see where this is going.

So what does the increased web share actually mean?

The conclusion by some is that Android users simply don’t use their web browsers as much as Apple users do. That, or someone’s numbers are screwy. The problem is discerning which one is true. Since sales numbers seem to pop up out of nowhere, many believe that it’s the sales numbers that are skewed and that iOS is much more popular than Android. These people use this web share data as proof of that.

To put it bluntly, the web share information doesn’t mean squat when it comes to hardware sales. It simply shows that Apple fans use their browser way more than Android fans. It’s not a giant leap in logic to make. Consider that for months, the only way to access Google Maps on iOS devices was through the web interface. There are many similar bottlenecks to iOS that make people use their web browser. There is also the chance that Apple users just like their web browsers more often.

It’s impossible to correlate hardware sales to web share when dealing with titans like Apple and Android. Trying to use consumer habits to determine hardware sales is like saying people buy more sports cars because studies show sports car owners drive faster. It’s comparing apples to oranges and can lead to conclusions that aren’t always accurate.

Next time you see a web share graph, take it for what it’s worth. This one is showing more people on iOS use their web browsers and that’s it. It’s a measure of preference, not of dominance. No one should walk around stating that an operating system is more prevalent due to something like web share.  We’d love to hear from our readers on the subject. Do you think web share has any bearing on operating system sales and popularity?