No this isn’t a replay of Orson Welles’ “The War of the Worlds” broadcast from Halloween of 1938 but rather the little green men to which I refer are Android(s) the Google smartphone operating system.Originally I intended to write this article as a 2012 wrapup of the smartphone marketshare wars, but as I dug into the data I realized that the story is more about the last two years than just 2012 and it’s a story in which Android has taken over the world.
The tale starts at the end of 2010. The leading smartphone OS was Symbian at 40% marketshare running on Nokia phones (remember them?). While you might think 40% is great, the problem was that just a little more than a year earlier it was over 50%. That dotted line on the chart with the slope headed into the ground was not new. Nokia already knew they were in trouble and in fact just two months later announced the death of Symbian and their move to Windows Phone.
The real battle was going on a tier lower between RIM (Blackberry) at 18%, Android at 16% and Apple iOS (iPhone) at 15%. Who would replace Symbian as the market leader? For anyone paying attention and dealing in reality it was clear by this time that Blackberry was doomed already. That left the iPhone 4 versus Android Gingerbread (v2.3) coming on phones from various vendors.
Halfway through 2011 the marketshare landscape had already changed drastically. Symbian and Blackberry were down to 15 and 10 respectively, while Android was up to 50 and Apple to 20. But as the second half of the year unfolded fortunes appeared to change. After a mid-year sag, Apple regained their momentum based on the iPhone 4s and jumped up to 25%, apparently taking most of that new marketshare from Android. At the end of the year Apple was riding high. There were plenty of fanboys predicting doom for Android and dominance for the iPhone.
But unfortunately for those sage prognosticators the people buying all those smartphones in 2012 weren’t so smart I guess and didn’t follow what was predicted for them… they bought more Androids and fewer iPhones. By the end of Q3 the battle was over, Android had taken over the smartphone world and Apple was relegated to a sine wave with occasional surges from new products. And we’re still waiting to see what if any surge there was for the iPhone 5.
As it turned out, The Two Year War is a tale of love and death and survival. The deaths were of course Symbian and Blackberry. Love? Obviously the market loves Android, but too, one can never overstate the love Apple fans have for their products. (I’ll cover that in my next article on religion.) Survival? That would be Microsoft with Windows Phone. They were able to live to fight another day and I do believe they will emerge as a viable third contender for marketshare.
Strangely enough, even though today Android has about five times the marketshare as Apple, reading the “news” about iPhones would make you think Apple has 95% marketshare. It’s like watching TV or movies where everybody has a Mac. Then you find out Mac has only 10% of the PC market. That’s the Hollywood fantasy. Although I haven’t checked, maybe all the people on the “reality shows” have Windows PC’s.