Mobile operating systems have transformed modern life by changing the mobile phone into a powerful portable computer. These ubiquitous handheld devices now boast connectivity and capabilities that easily compete with a laptop. Smartphones are in continual demand, with more than 1.2 billion units shipped worldwide in 2022.
The global smartphone market is dominated by just two technologies, Android and Apple’s iOS. These two operating systems are used by over 5 billion users of smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, and even cars!
But which of these two behemoths has the greater market share? In this article, take a closer look at Android’s market share versus Apple’s to discover everything you want to know!
Android Market Share vs. Apple: Side-by-Side Comparison
|What is it?||Mobile operating system||Mobile operating system|
|Primary Use||Operating system for Android mobile devices including phones, tablets, laptops, smart TVs, cars, smartwatches||Operating system for Android mobile devices including phones (iPhones), tablets (iPad), portable media players (iPod Touch)|
|Initial Release||June 29, 2007||September 23, 2008|
|Current Release||Android 13 (August 2022)||16.4 (March 2023)|
|Influential Developers||Android, Inc., Google, Open Handset Alliance||Apple, Inc.|
|Type of OS||Modified Linux kernel||macOS, Unix-like, based on Darwin (BSD)|
|Open or Closed Source||Open||Proprietary|
|Licensing||Apache License||Proprietary software|
|Programming Language Used||C++, C (core), Java (UI)||Swift, C, Objective-C, C++, assembly language|
|Kernel Type||Linux kernel||Hybrid kernel|
|Number of Languages the OS is Available in||100||40|
|Number of Users Globally||3.3 billion||2 billion|
|U.S. Market Share||41.88%||57.75%|
|Manufacturers||Samsung, Xiaomi, Alcatel, Motorola, Vivo, Huawei, Amazon, Tenco HTC||Apple|
|Ease of Customization||Easy||Difficult|
|App Store||Google Play||iTunes|
|Number of App Downloads||110 billion (2022)||32.6 billion (2022)|
Android Market Share vs. Apple: Need-to-Know Differences
Android and Apple’s iOS operating systems have over 80% of the market share. However, there is a massive difference in their overall market share as well as their popularity in specific geographical regions.
Here’s everything you want to know.
Global Market Share
Android is, by far, the most popular mobile operating system in the world.
According to Bank My Cell, Android is even the most popular OS overall with a 71.95% market share reported in early 2023. Android OS adoption and device shipments peaked in 2019 with an Android market share of 75.47% and 1.33 billion Android devices shipped.
The massive difference between Android’s market share and Apple’s may exist for the following reasons.
- Android devices tend to be cheaper and available at a wider range of price points than Apple devices.
- Android devices are highly customizable and can be adopted by a wide range of manufacturers.
- iOS users find that Apple’s phones are harder to use.
- iOS has a more limited range of specs than Android.
- Android is an open-source platform, whereas iOS is a private platform that is more sophisticated but more compact.
- Android has a wide range of features including, reverse charging, and split-screen multitasking.
Android vs. Apple Market Share by Region
When you drill down to how Android and iOS market share is distributed worldwide, there are some interesting variations in market dominance.
North America Market Share
In Canada and the U.S., Apple has the upper hand. In early 2023, iOS dominated the U.S. market with a 57.75% market share, which was a 1.32% increase from the previous year. Apple may have market dominance in this region because of its relative affluence and strong brand value.
Europe Market Share
In Europe, Android and iPhone users are split, with Android taking 67.2% of the market and Apple having a 32.1% share.
Africa Market Share
Android heavily dominates emerging markets due to its low cost and adaptability. It is, by far, the most popular OS on the continent with an 86% market share. Apple’s share on the continent is 13.21%, with Morrocco having the highest proportion of iPhone owners at 28%.
Asia Market Share
The split is similar in Asia, too, with Android taking 80% of the market and Apple’s iOS having just 18.35%.
What is the Android OS?
Android is not only a mobile operating system but the world’s most popular operating system overall since 2011.
- The largest installed base
- At least 3 billion monthly active users
- Over three million apps in its Play Store
It has been developed for use with touchscreen portable devices like smartphones and tablets. Android was developed by Android, Inc., which was purchased by Google. It is primarily based on Linux and is now available as open-source software managed by the Open Handset Alliance. The first version of Android was released on June 29, 2007. The latest version is Android 13, which was released last year.
The core of this OS is the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). This open-source software forms the basis of all forms of Android used by devices, including the Google version.
Google’s Android, which is a proprietary trademark, has been specifically developed by Google to include pre-installed Google Mobile Services (GMS) that has a suite of apps that include:
- Google Chrome
- Google Play
For a device to use the Android trademark, it must meet standards set by Google. Over 70% of smartphones worldwide run the more basic AOSP OS. Vendors then customize the UI and software that is included, like Samsung’s One UI.
Android is extremely versatile and flexible, with many variants that are used to enhance the functionality of other equipment and devices like smart TVs, wearables, games consoles, and even vehicles.
What is iOS?
Apple’s iOS operating system is a proprietary OS for mobile Apple devices like the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. It is Android’s largest competitor, coming second in the global market for smartphones and other devices.
It also has three further derivatives:
- iPadOS for the iPad
- tvOS for SmartTVs
- watchOS for Apple watches
iOS was first called iPhone OS and was released in 2007 with the very first iPhone. Steve Jobs described the challenge of developing the iPhone OS as either shrinking the Mac or enlarging the iPhone. He pitted development teams against each other to come up with the optimum platform, which was developed by Scott James Forstall.
iOS was designed with the ability to support third-party software applications or apps. Apple developed a software development kit to help developers navigate the new platform. The iTunes store has over 2 million apps that have been downloaded over 130 billion times. iOS is updated annually and is currently on iOS 16, which was released in September 2022.
Android Market Share vs. Apple: 7 Must-Know Facts
- Mobile operating systems have been the majority of operating systems used since 2017.
- Smartphones are the most common devices that access the world wide web.
- Mobile operating systems have a user interface that can support direct manipulation by the user on a touchscreen. The OS is designed to respond to a range of standard gestures including tapping, swiping, and pinching to make images smaller, and a reverse pinch to enlarge them.
- Both iOS and Android have developed their own virtual keyboard that is displayed on the touchscreen interface at a size and resolution that complements its form factor.
- AndroidTV is increasing in popularity and market share. It has a range of appealing features that include using your smartphone as a remote, and screensaver, and a range of customizable picture modes.
- iOS 16 delivered a range of new features for iPhone users including 31 new emojis, Siri voices for Hebrew and Arabic, and a voice isolation feature.
- The benefits of iOS include its outstanding security, data privacy standards, and responsiveness.
Android and Apple’s iOS operating systems are market leaders, but by being open-source and easily adapted for a wide range of devices, Android has secured an edge over its main competitor. Its affordability and ease of use are especially valuable for the developing world and emerging economies where millions of people can use it on affordable smartphone models.
iOS is by far the more sophisticated product, with advanced proprietary technology and a stylish design. It is a premium product that is less accessible to people with budgetary constraints. This is its major limitation, especially when its market share is considered at a global level.
Either way, it seems that mobile operating systems are going to be the main form of operating systems long term, as desktop OSes are becoming crowded out by these nimble alternatives.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©everything possible/Shutterstock.com.