Why comparing iOS and Android market share doesn’t make any sense

I have been reading a lot of comparisons between Apple iOS and Android, or between Apple’s terminals and Android terminals in terms of market share.

As you can see from the graph below, it does look like Apple has lost its superiority.

Some are claiming the success of Android, some are claiming the superiority of Apple products that uneducated customers can’t comprehend, but it all comes down to segmentation and a market growing up to become mass-market.

The graph is completely misleading and this kind of information is out of place and missing the point. If you add to the equation the smartphone penetration

and you compute the two graphs, you clearly see that Apple is still growing, which I particularly find remarkable having in mind a few characteristics, number one being price.

We are talking about a terminal starting at 450$ up to 850$. On the other hand, on average, a decent Android terminal starts at around 150$.

When a market gets bigger and bigger, different segments appear. You don’t have only early-adopters or high value customers any more, you are now already conquering the mid-value customers and tapping into low-value customers. I also see graphs showing Apple users having higher data traffic than Android users. That’s like noticing that (and making a big deal about it) BMW M5 owners are driving faster than Chevy Spark owners. The price difference (in percentage points) between and iPhone 5 and a LG Optimus for example is the same as between the BMW M5 and Chevy Spark. Any of the graphs above compares the M5 with the Spark and assumes they are competing for the same customer.

Another way for looking at it is in the graph below. The horizontal axis represents the price (average price) and the vertical axis is a basic segmentation (0 are traditionalists and 800 would be the early-adopters). The size of the bubble represents the numer of types of terminals on sale right now (for example Apple has 3: iPhone 4, 4S and 5).

Android goes from low-value traditionalists up to high value lighthouse customers, on tens of terminals. iOS on the otherhand is present in 3 very expensive terminals, and still stands at 30% market share.

Apple has kept its long-time history of offering out-of-the-box, ready to be used products with utmost ease and simplicity. They’ve also been expensive ever since Macintosh times. Apple can be compared with only a few other phones, Galaxy S and maybe a Nokia, and in this comparison, it does win by a landslide.

I don’t believe Apple, having in mind the positioning of the company, will ever come out with a budget iPhone and I believe the iPhone will reach its maximum potential one day, just as the iPod did. (http://www.asymco.com/2010/08/01/apple-sales-by-product-line/). What is different today than back in the Macintosh vs. Microsoft times is that Apple is probably the most disruptive company yet. It is a one product company (well, now 2 products company considering the iPad as well), it bets all of its prestige on that one product, and they constantly disrupt the market completely. Their future lies in this capability and, having in mind the statements of Tim Cook regarding the pipeline, they are going to do it over and over again.

What I find more interesting than comparing iOS with Android is how Windows will manage their position. Microsoft has a long tradition of second-mover starting with Windows and Internet Explorer. Most of the times they did win the market, now their deal with Nokia puts them in a decent position but there is a very long way to go and the competition seems to be stronger than ever.

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