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In iOS vs. Android, Does Market Share Matter?

If we look at mobile devices as razors, and add-on services at the blades, then market share may not mean dominance.

On the topic of which mobile operating system is better, you can’t go long before discussing market share. But does market share really matter?

With the rise of app stores, it seems to me that mobile wallets (both for Google, and now it seems also for Apple and other post-purchase services are a better measure how much your users spend. And isn’t that a better success metric?

So who spends the most? During the holiday shopping season, iOS users outspent others. They also gave more in charity donations, as this press release explains, “Donations from mobile devices have overwhelmingly come from Apple users, who have donated a staggering £4.4 million using their iPhone or iPad.”

And it isn’t just on mobile OSes that you see the difference. Take Humble Bundle, a website where you pay what you want for ‘digital creations’ (including books, games, etc.), and the site splits your payment between developers and charity. There is a marked difference between platforms. Here’s a snap from my account for the current Bundle X. Compare Windows, Max and Linux users in the list on the left.


No question that Android has, and will likely continue to have, a bigger ‘market share’ than iOS, especially as Android moves to non-phone devices like laptops, tablets, and gaming consoles (OUYA, GameStick, etc.).

But perhaps rather than only counting raw numbers, we should start looking at average revenue per user, or ARPU.

Once we take the wallets, app sales, etc. into account, it’s clear that we’re talking about the ‘razor blade’ business model, so ARPU starts to be more important than sheer volume of devices. If that’s the case, then iOS customers appear to be more valuable—and that may be what wins in the end.

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