The below graph might be shocking to some but it’s not a trick of the eye, Android have an almost 80% share of the world’s smartphone unit sales, and this is expected to grow for the next couple of years at least. It may come as a surprise considering Apple’s success in the market and the idea of the smartphone war as a close two horse race between Apple and Google, but the facts don’t lie, when it comes to operating system user share, Google’s Android is the clear winner. Apple’s iOS only accounts for roughly 15% of all global smartphone sales.
Android’s rise has been staggering over the last four years, with their share of the user base almost doubling each year, the result of smartphones becoming more readily available in emerging markets which are targeted by producers of devices on the cheaper end of the scale that run Android.
But while stats like this might suggest that Apple could face serious trouble maintaining their position in the market over the coming years, the graph doesn’t necessarily paint a complete picture of the state of play. Android may have over 1bn monthly active users (not including those in China or on Kindle devices) compared to Apple’s 470m, but figures from Google’s IO event last month seem to confirm that Android users spend a significant amount less on apps for their device than their Apple counterparts.
Estimates from tech analyst Benedict Evans last week suggest that Apple earn, on average, more than four times the amount per user from apps than Google. Apple paid out an estimated $10bn to developers for sales of iOS apps over the last 12 months compared to Google’s $5bn to developers of Android apps. Taking into account their respective user bases this leaves Apple’s ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) at $21 compared to Android’s ARPU of $5.
This puts an entirely different spin on the shape of the smartphone industry. When you take into account the massive profits that Apple makes from the sales of it’s hardware this becomes even more stark. Android might be eating the market, but Apple have got the customers that matters, at least when it comes to cold hard cash.