From 0-70% market share, how Android gained and maintained the OS market leadership

Omoleye Omoruyi
“Android’s global success can in many ways be attributed to its open-source software that can be installed on all smartphone devices for free”, says Statista…

Statista has reported that Android maintained its position as the leading mobile Operating System (OS) worldwide in August 2022 with. a controlling share of the mobile OS market of up to 70% while iOS accounted for around 28%of the market.

Take a moment to think about the noise Nigerians generate across the social media space when they debate a trending issue: for instance Christiano Ronald vs Messi, Mercy vs Tasha or Peter Obi vs Bola Tinubu?

Well, that is an internet population of about 36.24 million users. So, imagine the number of people that use the Android OS when we say that the software powers over 70% of over 15 billion devices owned across the globe.

See? That is why Android Vs iOS is going to be a perpetual debate on the social space.

Well, just know that Android has the lead in numbers. If you read this article to the end, you will see how it grew from nothing to become the world’s dominant OS, you will also understand the growth pattern and why.

Here we go.

The entrance of Android

As of 2008, when its first commercial version was released, Android – founded in 2003 by Andy Rubin, Rich Miner, Chris White and Nick Sears and means ‘male robot‘ – had 0% of the market share, while iOS had 32.56% and Symbian had 42.02%.

By December of a year later, the number had increased to 4.07%.

Android, in 2010, became the second best-selling operating system after Symbian from Nokia. It grew by nearly 900% from 2009 and outdistanced third place BlackBerry and Apple’s iOS. Gartner reported that 67.2 million Android-based units were sold that year, accounting for 22.7% of the market.

Android continues to gain by leaps and bounds, helping to drive the smartphone market,Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC’s Mobile Phone Technology and Trends team, said in a statement in 2011.

Android market share by 2010
Image: WIRED

It has become the cornerstone of multiple vendors’ smartphone strategies and has quickly become a challenger to market leader Symbian. Although Symbian has the backing of market leader Nokia, Android has multiple vendors, including HTC, LG Electronics, Motorola, Samsung and a growing list of companies deploying Android on their devices.”

The overall industry boomed during 2010 and the quarter that ended it.

WIRED reported in 2010 that among smartphone platforms, Android OS grew to 17% share between May and July from 12% at the end of April. During the same period, RIM and Apple lost about 1.3 % share.

The boom: the yearly rise and rise of Android

Android’s growth has been powered by a slew of new handsets launched in the last few months. HTC’s EVO 4G debuted on Sprint in June. A few weeks later, Motorola introduced its second generation Droid and Droid X on the Verizon Wireless network. Meanwhile, Samsung launched its Galaxy S range of smartphones.

WIRED, September 2010.

Android accomplished its goal of competing with the big name (Symbian) by 2011.

“Android’s global success can in many ways be attributed to its open-source software that can be installed on all smartphone devices for free”, says Statista

Owing to its exclusive use on Nokia products model, the Symbian OS became unwanted material and enabled Apple to become Android’s main competitor. By 2012, Android had become a market leader and was projected to cut out more share of the cake in the coming years.

Read also: A timeline of the rise, dominance and fall of Nokia phones

Android leads mobile OS worldwide with 70% share

Quick dive to 2014. The year marked a huge milestone for Google’s Android. It reached a whooping84.6% market share in Q2 of 2014.

Here is why:

For the first time, worldwide shipments of smartphones using the Android OS exceeded 1 billion units in 2014. Nearly 300 million smartphones were shipped in Q2 of 2014, which means that Android accounted for a quarter billion devices in just about 90 days! Define progress again.

This is a significant gain from the 780.8 million units that were shipped in 2013, researcher Strategy Analytics announced. Android dwarfed its second-place competitor, Apple’s iOS, which sold 192.7 million worldwide shipments in 2014.

Android leads global market share in 2014 with 84.6%

But nothing last forever.

In Q3 of 2014, Android slipped slightly to 84%. Then, analysts argued that “unless there is an unlikely collapse in rival Apple iPhone volumes in the future, Android is probably never going to go much above the 85% global market share ceiling.” (Rolfe Winkler, The Wall Street Journal).

(Yet, Android was never going to slip lower than 50%.)

Android leads global market share in 2014
  • But, 2015 was not Android’s year. According to data from Stats Counter, its market share slipped to 65.9%. IDC reported that Android still had 82.8% market share by Q2 2015. iOS came second with 13.9%.
  • For Q1 2016, Statista released a report that about 84% of smartphones sold to end users used Android as its operating system. The exact number by the end of September of that year was 87.5%. This means that nearly nine out of 10 smartphones used the Android OS.
  • IDC estimates that Android smartphones made up 85.1% of all smartphones shipped globally in 2017, compared with Apple’s 14.8% share.
  • For 2018, IDC released a forecast noting that Android will lose market share and sink to 77.6% of the market. But that occurs after Android adds about 404 million phones, while Apple adds only 63 million – and its share sinks to 13.7%.
  • By 2020, Techjury reported that Android had the bigger part of the marketing share – 87%.
  • In 2021, Android was the most popular among users aged 50 to 64 years, with 83% of the market share, according to Statista. 2022 data about Android use shows that 57% of Android users are male, while 43% are female.
  • By January 2022, Android’s market share was reported to have dropped to 69.74%. The drop in share does not indicate that Android’s dominance is threatened. Still, despite reports of disappointing iPhone SE sales, it’s a positive sign for Apple that its broader strategy of diversifying its iPhone and iPad lineup is paying dividends in a highly competitive space.
  • By February 2022, Android OS has gotten a 70.97% share of the mobile operating system market share, while iOS garnered 28.27%.

The reason for the lead

Android’s leadership of the global smartphone market looks unassailable at the moment. Its low-cost services and user-friendly software remain attractive to hardware makers, operators and consumers worldwide,” Woody Oh, director at Strategy Analytics, CNBC.

CNBC said in a report that the growth of Android had been driven by the rise of low-cost vendors in countries such as China using the OS, but it could face challenges ahead.

However, several challenges remain for Google. The Android platform is getting overcrowded with hundreds of manufacturers, few Android device vendors make profits, and Google’s new Pixel range is attacking its own hardware partners that made Android popular in the first place.”

The primary reason Android continued to lead the global market is cost. In many countries, people have far less disposable income. Because of that, the first factor in deciding on a phone is cost. In other words, Apple simply cannot compete with Google. Imagine someone from a low-income country buying an iPhone 14 for $1,400.

A StockApps analysis includes an interesting geographical breakdown of OS dominance. For instance, in Africa, where Apple devices are expensive (and purchasing power is low), 84% of all smartphones run Android, while iOS accounts for roughly 14% of the continent’s devices.

It’s a similar story in Asia and South America, where Android takes 81% and 90% share, respectively. By contrast, iOS share is 18% in Asia and 10% in South America.

Europe, the US, and Japan were among the biggest iOS markets. Currently, Android dominates. In China, many Google apps have been banned.

Android has been gaining momentum since its very beginning. And now has three billion active users in over 190 countries.

Earth Web

Android – in Africa

In 2021, Android devices had 87.22% of the mobile OS market. iOS is again a minority and accounts for 10.16% of the market.

Samsung was Africa’s market leader with 32.93% of the market share of mobile device manufacturers in Africa. Huawei came in second with 17.83%, followed by Apple with 13.86% of the market share.

Android had 84.4% of the market share in Africa in August, while iOS had 13.42%, according to Stats Counter. Earlier, in June 2022, it accounted for 86.05% of the mobile OS market, with Apple’s iOS the next major competitor with a 12.19% share, according to Statista.

Android vs iOs in Africa

Its market share in Nigeria has grown steadily from 68.6% in January 2018 to more than 80% in March 2022. In comparison, Apple’s iOS, the next major mobile OS provider in the country in 2022, accounted for 9.65% of the market as of March 2022.

In South Africa, Android has held the top spot for OS market share for many years. Android holds a market share of 83.28% in the country, followed by 16.31% for Apple’s iOS.

Mobile OS Share in South Africa
Image: MyBroadband

Android will continue to dominate in Africa as ‘cost’ is important in expenditure decisions. Indeed, interest may increase and linger, but purchasing power is an indispensable factor in opportunity cost.

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