In just three years, Android has crushed the smartphone competition

In just three years, Android has crushed the smartphone competition

Summary: In one-and-a-half product ownership cycles, Android has crushed the likes of Symbian and RIM almost out of existence, and even Apple's iOS platform is feeling the pressure.


It's hard to appreciate just how much the smartphone landscape has changed over the past few years, and it's easy to attribute most of that change to the work of Apple. But Google's open-source platform Android has done more to shape the ecosystem than iOS has, and in three years it has come from nowhere to crush the competition.

Horace Dedui, analyst at Asymco, posted an interesting chart to Twitter that shows just what a sweeping influence Android has had on the smartphone market in just one-and-a-half product ownership cycles.

In that time, Google's platform has grown from having a four percent unit share of the market to having a commanding 72 percent unit share, crushing the likes of RIM, Windows Phone, and Nokia's Symbian platform.

The only platform that can stand up to the pressure is Apple's iOS, and even that has lost one percentage point over the period.

It is Android, and not iOS, that has effectively killed off the competition and turned the smartphone market into a two-horse race.

But this isn't to say that Android doesn't have some challenges to face. Google, along with its hardware partners, have been effective in getting handsets into the hands of users, but keeping those handsets updated with the latest versions of Android is turning out to be quite difficult. According to Google's own data, more than half of the Android devices out there are powered by Android 2.3 'Gingerbread,' a version that hasn't seen an update since September 2011.

Compare this to Apple, which managed to get more than 60 percent of iDevice users to upgrade to iOS 6 in under a month.

Image source: Asymco/Twitter.

Topics: Android, Hardware, iOS, Smartphones

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  • The hardware partners of Google..

    .. are the main reason for the problem with updates. That is one area in which Apple does well by being both the software and hardware partner itself, haha. But no choice in Apple land, so I guess they all have their advantages and disadvantages. Being an Android fan, I am seeing good things in WP8 though, so I hope that OS becomes a viable alternative in the future. Enough of this two horse race already :D
    • Android crushed Microsoft

      The biggest loser is Microsoft. After decades of others trying, Google's Android is finally the one to succeed in destroying Microsoft's monopoly in computing. In fact, Microsoft is now a dead duck, as its portable devices (Windows Phone, Surface tablet) will go the same way as Zune and Kin. The boat has left, and Microsoft has missed it and been left out of the next era of computing.

      Apple is doing better than Microsoft, but heading to its old position of second fiddle, like it was during the Mac era.

      As for Android updates, other stats show a large proportion of Android users are on 4.0 or above. Anyone who likes fast Android updates should stick to Google's own Nexus devices, which are always the first to get OS updates.
      • Early to say.

        Win8 just came out and Surface isn't the only device which runs win8. It's OEM partners are having good impact on enterprise. Win8 will likely cover tab space. PRO will do right now and RT in future. WP8 is gonna be better and better, MS is trying to make all in one and I guess it will get good response. Android is good but nexus devices don't get sales as OEMs don't adv those devices when Playstore is providing you at very low cost. Too much fragmentation will take away enterprise people to WP8 as MS always happpy to help enterprise.
      • Android is self-crushing with its FOSS signature fragmentation

        In addition to let all vendors build incompatible versions b/c of it's "open" nature, Google is feuding with govt such as China that forces their vendors to strip all Google services from the system to avoid messing with the government. All it creates is a fragmented platform that has no customer loyalty, which is why far more Android users switch to iOS / WP than the other way around.
        • Lbiege..math is lost on you?

          LBiege, I'm guessing math wasn't your best subject in school? Stick with Apple, they're made for people who have difficulty with technical stuff.

          You state that "far more Android users switch to iOS / WP than the other way around". I think you forgot to include the link to the data you based this statement on.

          If you look at the article, you'll notice that 72% of the users use Android, 16% IOS and 2% Windows.

          Let's just say that there are 100 users in total. You'll notice that if 10% of each group moves, that 7 users will switch from Android and only 2 from IOS. OH MY GOD, Android users must hate their devices, 3 1/2 times more people switch from Android than from IOS!

          If "far more" users are switching from Android could you also explain how it is growing faster than IOS and Windows; are you suggesting that new users to Smart Phones almost exclusively buy Android phones?

          Furthermore, if this issue with Google having to strip services in China is causing such a problem, why is Android's market share in China growing so quickly and Apple's market share declining?

          China Mobile (the countries and the worlds largest provider) doesn't even sell iPhones, only two smaller providers, China Netcom and China Unicom do.
      • If second fiddle is making 65-75% of all the profits...

        I am guessing Apple will be very happy with that.
        • Re: I am guessing Apple will be very happy with that.

          They were "happy with that" back in the early 1990s, too, when they were still profitable while steadily losing market share. Then, suddenly, just a few years later, they found themselves circling the plughole, and it took Steve Jobs to come back and rescue them.

          Who will rescue them this time?
        • Never under-estimate the low end

          You should read what Clayton Christensen has to say about disruptive "technology". Toyota didn't get the market share they have by concentrating on high profitability. They came in at the bottom end whilst Ford and GM left them to it to concentrate on more profitable lines. Same started to happen to Intel when fighting AMD. Apple did they same thing with Microsoft and they haven't changed their business model. By concentrating on profit only they lose the lower end of the market and just lose share and innovation.
      • Android has not really touched Microsoft's share in computing

        They've only eaten Microsoft's clock in mobility--a place where Microsoft was notoriously weak despite their supposed domination in mobility devices (as long as it wasn't a phone.)

        Also, you make a mistake in assuming WP8/RT/Win8 will die as quickly as the Zune and Kin did--those items lacked the integration support between products that the new trio offers. While not perfect, WP8 offers much better integration even with Win7 than any predecessor.

        Meanwhile, Apple will continue to lead in the high-end market, though I won't argue that Samsung's one-shot Galaxy S3 was able to pass the iPhone's sales for one quarter during a very traditional sales slump leading up to the newer iPhone.

        As for Android updates, that "large proportion" is 25% of all Android units in the year since ICS was released--and most of that is due to newer devices sold with An 4.x already on board, not due to upgrading through OEMs or carriers.
        • Mobility is computing now

          Before, semi-smart devices were phones first and had trivial little carrier-approved apps as a value add. Now the smartphone and tablet are full-featured personal computer "client devices" first, and the phone is the value add. They have hundreds of thousands of applications including many choices of office suite, games, Remote Desktop clients and so on. Some can display on the same HDMI driven monitors your PC can, and print, use a keyboard and mouse at need. In short, they are PCs. And they outsell PCs shipped with Microsoft Windows by a ratio of 3:2. To companies that hope to sell their devices, to developers who want to sell their apps, that is what matters.

          That means that Microsoft has gone in a few short years from being the OS on 90% of client devices sold in a quarter - an overwhelming monopoly - to 40%: a respectable share but not intimidating. That is all the difference in the world. Their monopoly is broken.
    • Verizon is the biggest reason, not even "the providers"

      Even AT&T is better at getting updates out....and a lot of it has to do with wanting to restrict tethering.
    • It's not the OEMs

      It's the carriers. I have an HTC Thunderbolt that HTC said was going to be updated to ICS in August... then September... now it's being held up by VZW "testing" the update.
    • Actually, Google has a poor update design implementation.

      They took many shortstop in the design and architecture of Android making it harder to for OEMs to update. Add to this, there is no real incentive for them to do so (and even less for the carriers) and you have a mess.
  • To be correct, Apple's iOS' share among smartphones grows, but, obviously,

    ... much slower than Android platform. Calendar Q4 and next years' Q1 will see much faster iPhone sales, but if Apple will not have updated iPhone next spring, then again they will have flat Q2 and Q3 sales.

    So without turning to semi-annual update cycle, Apple will lag behind.

    Also, with cease of iPhone 3Gs sales, Apple confirmed that they are not going to seriously compete with Android on wider scale in numbers. If Apple would keep iPhone 3Gs for at least unsubsidised markets -- but lowered its price from $375 to $275 -- then this would bring many more additional sales to Apple, and with that price margins would be still very high.

    Yet Apple decided that they are not going to compete for lower than $400 price segment devices.
    • Right

      Android hardware makers don't earn much except Sammy. It has flooded market with its plastic devices and companies like HTC who make good hardware are in deep crap. And most of android market share is due to very low end cheap hardwares made by local companies. It's a mess. Google needs to control this.
      • In the high-end.

        .. I'm more willing to go with Samsung's plastic, as their prices and specs constantly beat HTC's. Compare the Sensation and Galaxy S2 (the former was costlier with lesser specs and is being left at 2.3, with HTC to decide if 2011 devices are worthy enough of an upgrade to JB, while SGS2/Note are getting it this year), One X vs SGS3, and Samsung always beats them at pricing and specs at the same or lesser price, at least here in India. Sure, their plastic is a bother to some, but not that big a bother, and they should reduce their habit of pushing out so many devices.

        HTC has great build quality, and now a great display (though I still prefer SAMOLED for deeper blacks and colors), but that's about it. Their software has no innovation (not even gimmicky features), while Samsung is doing so much, specially with the Note 2.
      • Why the hate of plastic?

        I never understood why people need aviation-grade metal for a device with a life expectancy of 3 years. Plastic is ok: cheaper, lighter, less impact on the envirronnemt, smoother to the hand. In a few months, my phone will be gone : it doesn't need to be built like a jewel.
        • Metal vs Plastic

          Yea, and you want to try and haul one of those metal things out of your pocket at -40C with your bare hands. Or if you are a real masochist stick your tongue on it.
          • Have you ever seen how brittle plastic is at -40C?

            Thing practically shatters in your hand--especially if you grab it bare-handed.
        • Plastic has a high impact on the environment

          Unless you recycle it, that is. On the other hand, it is usually so brittle and so fragile that when you're working with a device as small and light as a smartphone it's almost guaranteed to break unless you take better than average care with the device. That's why so much of the hatred.

          The older "candybar" phones used thicker plastics to offer just that bit more strength, but when you're making a phone that weighs mere ounces, that thin plastic is so temperature sensitive and so shock sensitive that the body of the phone itself gives way before the internals--unlike a metal-bodied phone with a glass face that will continue to function even when dropped from 2,000 feet.