Friday, February 1, 2013

Apple Is Gaining Ground Over Google’s Android OS -- Or Are They?

CNN Money reports that Apple is beginning to gain ground in market share over Google’s Android OS. According to a Net Applications report that was issued on Friday, Android’s web presence peaked in November, when it held a 28% share of the worldwide market of mobile web usage. However, Google Inc. (GOOG)’s presence has been sliding since then.

Apple Inc. (AAPL) has a different tale to tell regarding web market share. iOS, Apple’s mobile web OS has been on a steady rise since October of 2012. The iPhone 5 and iPad mini product launches seem to have fueled a major increase in the number of people who are utilizing Apple devices to access the web on mobile browsers.

While this seems to be a good report for Apple, other firms have released reports that are contradictory to Net Applications’. IDC, a market research firm, has Android devices ranking higher than Apple in sales figures. For instance, their report indicates that Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (BC94)’s Android based smartphones outsold Apple during the quarter. Samsung’s tablet computers are also rapidly gaining ground on the iPad line offered by Apple. 

Thursday, CNN Money had a headline that read “IDC says Android is thenew king of tablet market share.” This seems to completely contradict what Net Applications has stated.
Philip Elmer-DeWitt, a CNN Money author admits that he was rather skeptical of the reports from IDC, considering that Apple Inc. is the only major tablet manufacturer who actually releases their sales figures. He points out that unlike IDC, who according to him “seems to pull numbers out of thin air”, Net Applications is actually counting data usage.

According to his article today, Google can not possibly be the king of mobile browsing when only 24.5% of mobile users are accessing the web on Android devices, while Apple holds more than 60% of that market share.

I tend to agree with his closing statement, where he says, “either a lot of Android owners are not using their devices to surf the Web—which is certainly possible—or someone’s numbers are screwy.” It would seem that IDC is releasing research that is dangerously slanted towards Google Inc. (GOOG), which leads to some interesting questions.

In an update to the article, the author points out that Strategy Analytics released a report regarding these issues stating that Apple became the number one vendor of mobile phones in the U.S. However, he cautions that this company also pulls numbers from mysterious sources similar to IDC, so there may not be cause for celebration in Apple camps.

I think it is safe to say that Apple is a dominant force in the mobile market. Whether or not they outrank Google in market share seems to be nothing more than a matter of opinion, and until we get Android tablet manufacturers to release their sales figures, it will continue to be just that- opinion.