Mobile is today as important, if not more important, than desktops when it comes to the internet and apps. A clear reminder of that comes with news of a report claiming that Google’s Android has overtaken Windows as the internet’s most used operating system.
Research from web analytics company StatCounter found Android now accounts for a larger share of internet usage than Windows for the first time. During March 2017, Android users represented 37.93 percent of activity on StatCounter’s network versus 37.91 percent for the Microsoft operating system. It’s a small gap for sure — and it refers to usage not necessarily users — but it marks a notable tipping point that has been inevitable for the past couple of years.
StatCounter — which bases its findings on 2.5 million websites that it claims generate more than 15 billion monthly page views — tracked the gradual convergence of usage for the two operating systems over time. The chart highlights Microsoft’s failure to challenge with its ill-fated Windows Phone platform.
StatCounter: Internet usage based on operating systems Match 2012-March 2017
Interestingly, for Apple, the switch happened some time ago. During March 2017, Apple’s mobile users (iOS) were close to three times more active on the internet than users of its desktop machines (OSX).
StatCounter: Internet usage based on operating systems during March 2017
The wider Android-Windows trend has been evident for some time. Windows dominated, and continues to dominate, the desktop landscape, but worldwide PC sales have declined for the past five years to reach the same levels as 2008. In contrast, sales of smartphones continue to grow, and Android is the operating system for the lion’s share of internet users worldwide. Growth is highest in emerging markets like India. There, Apple has increased its sales but remains a niche player, with Android accounting for upwards of 90 percent of smartphones.
While the balance between iOS and Android is more level in Western markets like the U.S., the influx of new internet users from regions like Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America has tipped the scales in favor of Android. Indeed, a StatCounter report issued last week showed that mobile accounts for the vast majority of internet usage in countries like India (79 percent), Indonesia (72 percent) and China (57 percent), while desktop remains king in markets such as the U.S. (37 percent), U.K. (35 percent) and Germany (30 percent).
Those numbers have seen some shift in global revenue for developers, with China overtaking the U.S. as the most lucrative market for iOS apps worldwide, but Android continues to lag despite a larger base of users.
A recent App Annie report found that iOS accounted for just over 25 billion of the 90 billion app downloads made in 2016, with Android taking the remainder. Yet iOS apps pulled in the majority of the $35 billion paid out to publishers across the iOS and Android app stores.
That might change soon, though. Thanks again to its vast dominance in the emerging world, App Annie is predicting that 2017 could be the year that Android app earnings overtake iOS for the first time. That would be another important milestone.