updated 12:50 am EDT, Sun September 8, 2013
Apple's platform tops in sales, web traffic, ad results, but still second in base
Though the combined Android installed base in the US is still larger than Apple's iOS, reports from the past few months have shown a slow but steady drop in the platform -- and the latest reports from ComScore MobiLens, Mobile Matrix, Quantcast and Millennial Media all indicate that iOS is gaining share, in spite of reports based on "shipments" rather than end-user sales or real-world usage. While Samsung also continues to grow share in the US, the failure of other Android-based retailers is dragging the platform down overall, the reports reveal.
The latest figures from ComScore, covering a three-month average from May to the end of July show that Apple cracked the 40 percent barrier, rising to 40.4 percent for a gain of 1.2 percent from the spring (a similar study by Kantar claimed iOS had 43.4 marketshare in the US, but that study included August sales results -- which along with methodology may account for the difference). Samsung grew 2.1 percent, but drops in share from Motorola (losing 1.4 percent) and HTC (dropping 0.9 percent) effectively cancelled Samsung's gain for the Android platform overall. Of the top five smartphone manufacturers only Apple, Samsung and LG (the latter of which squeaked out a 0.1 percent gain) showed positive numbers for the quarter.
With 40.4 percent of US smartphone subscribers compared to Samsung's 24 percent, Apple handily retained the number one spot. In platform terms, Android remains the top dog with 51.8 percent platform share in the US -- but it shed 0.2 percent from its spring average of 52 percent. This is at least the third ComScore report that has shown declining or flat Android figures in the US -- all the more remarkable when considering that Apple hasn't refreshed any of its iOS devices in nine months, whereas Samsung and most other rivals continue to launch both flagship and other models on a routine basis, including new ones just out last week.
BlackBerry continued to shed users, dropping 0.8 percent to 4.3 percent of the market in the summer quarter, while Microsoft held steady on its three percent share and the discontinued Symbian dropped another 0.2 percent to fall to 0.3 percent share overall.
The good news for Apple continued with a study from Quantcast for market analysts Piper Jaffray that showed iOS widening its lead over Google's Android in another key real-world, end-user measure: web traffic. In the US, iOS now accounts for 65 percent of all mobile-platform web traffic, a rise of five percent in the past two months. Given that both the iPhone line and iPad line are at or near the end-of-life in their yearly cycles, the continuing rise in end-user measurements like web traffic is particularly impressive.
While Android web traffic also rose (by two percent, less than half the rate of iOS growth) in the same time period, it continues to puzzle analysts how the top and fastest-growing smartphone platform in US has less than half as much web traffic as iOS -- 30.23 percent compared to 65.04 percent. The gains for both iOS and Android come entirely from smaller rivals, who saw their share of mobile web traffic cut by more than half between the end of June and the end of August, now down to just 4.66 percent.
Piper's Gene Munster told investors that Apple's iPhone continues to account for more than 50 percent of new smartphone sales at the two largest US carriers, AT&T and Verizon, and that the study (and others) proves that iPhone users are more engaged with their devices on a daily basis than are Android users. The figures are also somewhat skewed by the enormous popularity of the iPad in the tablet segment, which is combined with the smartphone segment for the purposes of measuring overall mobile-platform web traffic.
Separated, the various iPad models account for an even higher figure -- 84 percent -- of tablet-only web traffic. Android's low web usage among its smartphone owners and in particular among Android tablet owners was famously mocked by Apple CEO Tim Cook, who told analysts that "if there are lots of [Android] tablets selling, I don't know what they're being used for -- because that's a pretty basic function, web browsing."
Along the same lines, a report on ad impressions from Millennial Media -- another end-user engagement study -- again puts Apple far ahead of competitors, with Apple's mobile OS accounting for nearly 40 percent of all mobile add impressions. The nearest rival to Apple was Samsung with 25.13 percent, and among individual devices only Samsung's Galaxy S was able to crack into the top four in second place, followed by the iPad in third place and the iPod touch in fourth. The BlackBerry Curve, in fifth place had about half the ad impressions that the iPad touch scored (3.6 percent versus 7.6 percent, respectively).
Among manufacturers overall, again Apple and Samsung were the only two companies able to score double-digit percentages. The iPhone was by far the most popular single device, scoring 22.2 percent of all ad impressions -- more than double the Galaxy S, which was responsible for 9.81 percent. The iPad line captured 9.38 percent of impressions, with the iPod touch taking 7.6 percent. Overall, however, the combined Android percentage of ad impressions was 51 percent -- mirroring its share of smartphone subscribers.
Developers have said that they are more reliant on advertising and in-app purchases (IAPs) on the Android platform than on iOS due to the reluctance of Android users to pay for apps compared to iOS users -- a factor that could serve to make the iPhone's success even more noteworthy, as its dominance in end-user measurements again flies in the face of misleading "shipments" data many analysts rely on.
Millennial's study found that among Android tablets, 37 percent of sales went to the Galaxy Tab line, with 28 percent going to Amazon's Kindle Fire (which uses a forked version of Android that doesn't engage Google's services). Google's Nexus 7, widely perceived as a popular alternative to the iPad mini, showed no signs of widespread adoption in either web traffic or ad impressions, coming in dead last among the top 20 devices.
While Android was able to grow its ad impression share from 46 to 51 percent in 2013, Apple grew its share from 34 to 42 percent in the same period. BlackBerry, Windows and Symbian were all but non-entities in terms of ad impressions, with the former losing more than half its share in 2013 and the latter two platforms' statistics too small to measure.