Could Apple’s reign on the smartphone and tablet market be slipping? Apple’s iPhone and iPad have long been the darling of everyone from end users to app developers. Most of the companies that CRM Magazine covers choose to roll out mobile apps that work with iOS first, although the larger the company, the more having both is necessary. Salesforce1, for example, is available both on iOS and Android operating systems. Meanwhile, software companies with smaller development resources still often pick Apple’s iOS first when choosing to develop a mobile app. But is that still the right choice? Here are a few things to consider when evaluating the field of competitors in the mobile market.
- Android has greater market share. While Apple’s market share may be secure in the United States, globally, it’s in the minority. At the end of 2013, researchers put Android’s global market share at 79 percent, while Apple held just 16 percent. Windows Phone trailed with four percent. That could change even more now that Microsoft is throwing its hat in the ring and trying to grab mobile share.
- Who will win the word processing and spreadsheet wars? Since announcing a version of Microsoft Office for iPad a couple of weeks ago, more than 12 million people have downloaded the app. In order to get the full functionality, people must pay $99 for a yearly subscription. Microsoft hasn’t yet revealed the number of people who have paid for the subscription. Apple has fought back, announcing that applications in its iWork suite, which previously would go for $4.99 to $9.99, would come for free in new iPhones and iPads. The move actually kind of reminds me of Microsoft’s antitrust suit, where they were cited for bundling their Internet browser with the Miscrosoft operating system. Now they appear to be on the other side of the bundling equation, as Apple bundles its product, although the ubiquity of the Microsoft Office product puts it in a slightly different position compared to the previous battle.
- Windows Phone has plenty of room to grow. The four percent market share for Microsoft mainly comes from the company’s partnership with Nokia. However, Microsoft has announced that the Windows Phone software would be free for OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) on devices smaller than nine inches. That will undercut Android’s charge to OEMs and give them a play for more market share. Could Microsoft be the new Android?
- Apple may have customer quality, but Android has customer quantity. In an excellent post on Business Insider, Jim Edwards lays out the various reasons developers choose iOS over Android. One is that Apple users tend to be more affluent. People like the idea that high-status influencers might use their product first, and they also like that iOS users spend more, on average than an Android user—though I’ve seen other research that ties order size to screen size, not whether or not a user is running on Apple. As more high-end Android devices like the Samsung Galaxy S4 become popular, the stereotype of an affluent, influencer Apple user may weaken, at least statistically.
These days, it makes sense for a business to do a thorough analysis before moving first onto Android or iOS. It could be that their customer base is thoroughly on Apple. For more global products, Android might be the logical first step. But Apple’s dominance is being challenged, and it will have to continue to innovate in order to stay ahead of the pack closing in from ahead and behind.