March 24, 2014

Mobile Devices: The Inequality of Market Share and Money


Infographic - iOS vs Android Marketshare

The battle between iOS and Android makes it clear that the most market share doesn’t always equal the most money. And while this counter-intuitive conclusion might have surprised you, it makes a lot of sense when you start to peel back the layers of the onion.

As clearly evidenced in the infographic above, Android has unapologetically captured market share over the last 5 years. It’s taken the mobile operating-system world by force. But even with over 70% market share, Google isn’t reaping the profits you might have expected – despite the ongoing growth in mobile ecommerce.

The truth is, not all customers are created equal. While Android’s dream of bringing a free mobile operating system to the masses is undoubtedly an honorable one, it’s not yet the most profitable go to market strategy. This scenario is further exacerbated when the push for global mobile adoption is included in the analysis. Recent data suggests Android adoption vs iOS adoption is especially fierce in emerging markets. So what does that mean?

While emerging market growth sounds promising at first glance, it’s hasn’t led to short-term profits. On the contrary, low-income consumers in India, Brazil and China are swelling the Android adoption numbers but aren’t yet paying through the platform. This in large part explains why Google hasn’t been able to cash in on the unparalleled Android adoption.

On the other hand, Apple has spent years carefully cultivating a consumer following that appreciates the high end products (and their accompanying price points). Logically then it follows that Apple customers on average have more disposable income and likely higher incomes. Apple has also done a great job integrating the mobile experience making it easy for customers to purchase apps, songs and movies through a seamless user interface.

In the end, there will be sales to made on all types of mobile devices. But for the interim, online retailers would be wise to recognize that iOS is the most profitable market segment. Ensuring their ecommerce store renders beautifully on Apple devices should thus be a priority. While Android might drive a large portion of your overall mobile traffic, you might want to consider them tire kickers (for now).

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Orun Bhuiyan

As SEOcial's marketing technologist, Orun loves to discuss his hard-won knowledge on topics like SEO, programming and design. He's an enthusiast in emerging technologies, including big data and the semantic web.
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