iOS and Android aren’t necessarily competing for one mobile crown anymore, according to the latest Flurry mobile report, which shows that in the two-horse race the smartphone and mobile OS market has become, both Apple and Google’s offerings in fact have room to earn their own separate crown.
Android can rule in the North, in other words, while iOS reigns over the rest of the kingdom from its iron throne. And what that means is that while Android leads in device market share, with Flurry data suggesting that Android devices on its network doubled during the past year to reach a whopping 564 million in April 2013, Apple’s iOS manages to lead in terms of total time spent in apps. And though Android once neared Apple’s numbers in this regard, new device launches like the 3rd generation iPad have ensured that Apple has since made gains on its mobile rival in engagement.
Apple leads Android in time spent in apps as both a total, cumulative figure on Flurry’s network, and on a per device basis, broken down by various device types. It’s a little difficult to wrap your head around; why would the mobile OS with the largest overall share not also take the win for most time spent in apps? Flurry argues that iPhone shoppers and Android buyers were considerably different, at least at the outset of the smartphone wars, with those on iOS actively seeking out a device that could operate as a pocket computer, and Android users merely being pulled in with the tide when they go to upgrade their feature phone, thanks to price discounts and a range of available models, some as cheap as the dumb phones they’re replacing.
They also suggest that Android’s fragmentation problem is causing an impediment to app development, resulting in a level of quality that isn’t up to par with software on iOS, and distribution issues, and that Apple’s larger and deeper ecosystem of quality titles starts a self-improving cycle, with devs seeing good usage on the platform, devoting more resources to encouraging growth, and receiving still higher usage as a result.
Flurry’s perspective on the mobile race, and how it might actually be multiple races with winners in different contexts, is likely a more realistic and mature view than the oppositional one that’s been popular before. Android and iOS are no doubt still vying for customer attention, but ecosystem dominance and a smaller market share overall likely fit with Apple’s overall goals as a company, and vice versa for Google. The problem for competitors is making a dent in either lead, and that’s something we haven’t seen much indication will be all that possible as of yet.