Almost 80% of smartphones shipped last quarter ran Android. Has Apple lost the battle?

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According to Strategy Analytics, an independent global research and consulting firm, smartphone shipments increased by 47-percent annually, reaching 230 million units in the second quarter of this year. Those numbers alone are impressive! 230 million smartphones? That’s a whole lot of people tapping away on their screens. What’s even more interesting (alarming, perhaps?) is that nearly 80-percent of those devices were reportedly powered by Android. A lot of people are saying that’s the final nail in Apple’s coffin, and it’s time to throw in the towel and admit defeat. Has Apple lost the smartphone war?

Right now all the Apple fans have undoubtedly gotten their feathers ruffled and are heading down to the comments section to fire off a string of comments about how this report is “flawed”, how I’m an “Android fan-boy”, and who knows what else. Before you do that, read on. This isn’t going to be a bash-on-Apple article. Quite the contrary.

Limited to Q2

First off, this report is limited to the second quarter of 2013. It doesn’t factor in Q1 2013, Q3 2012, or Q4 2012. Put another way, the report didn’t cover an entire year, just a single quarter. Smartphones, like school supplies and cardigans, are somewhat seasonal and cyclical. They ebb and flow throughout the year. This report doesn’t take that into consideration — but it sure made for some fantastical headlines, didn’t it?

“Android now accounts for an impressive 8 in 10 of all smartphones shipped on the planet.” — Scott Bicheno, Senior Analyst at Strategy Analytics

Big news on the horizon

A lot of loyal Apple customers are holding out for the next big thing from Cupertino.

If the rumors are true we could very well see the next iPhone announced in less than a month. That’s a bit outside the range the “Q2 report” was looking at. Of course the numbers are going to be lower for Apple the quarter before they announce the “next big thing” since many are waiting for whatever it may be before they make their purchase, thereby artificially deflating the Q2 numbers.

It’s not the same fight

Apple has one flagship phone, one mid-tier phone, and one entry-level phone (and a similar situation with tablets). Sure, it’s this year’s model, last year’s model, and the model before that, rather than three distinct models aimed at three distinct price-points.  You see what I’m getting at.

Google has one flagship phone: The Nexus 4. They aren’t selling the Galaxy Nexus, or the Nexus S, so it’s not really a fair comparison. However, the numbers in the report aren’t comparing Apple to Google. They’re comparing iOS to Android. That’s an entirely different game!

Apple’s operating system is closed whereas Android is open. This means virtually any manufacturer can cook a version of Android and put it on their hardware and have a completely viable smartphone relatively quickly — complete with an ecosystem and user-base built-in.

In the days before Android, an OEM would have to write their own operating system (or license one from someone else) before they could bring a product to market. Now, they can license one from Microsoft (and pay money to do so), or just use Android, which is pretty much free (with certain restrictions and requirements, of course). Apple is completely closed, so all you can do there is write an app or make an accessory. Which would you pick?

From our perspective as end-users, the battle is all about “your OS” versus “my OS”, but it’s simply not fair to either side to look at it that way.

Conclusion

Although this report makes for some awesome headlines and helps stir up the “my OS is better than your OS” rivalry, people in both camps should look a little closer are the report, critically analyze the information, and come to grips that even though Android out-shipped iOS in Q2 2013, despite what certain reports and other tech sites may say, the battle is far from over.

Source: Strategy Analytics

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About The Author
Joe Levi
Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy".By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video.Read more about Joe Levi here.