The smartphone OS space is unarguably a two-horse race between Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.
And depending on which metrics you use, it’s easy to say either has “won” the competition.
Google’s Android has by far the biggest install base, but Apple’s iOS generates more app store revenue.
Speaking at The Financial Times’ FT Media 2015 conference in London on Tuesday, Andreessen Horowitz partner and mobile expert Benedict Evans compared the situation to the famous quote from Groucho Marx: “These are my principles, but if you don’t like them, I have others.”
And to demonstrate just how the race is playing out between Apple and Google, he shared this slide. Android is in orange, while iOS is in brown:
Android wins on phone unit sales, and Facebook users in Delhi. iOS is on top when you look at Facebook users in San Francisco, global mobile browsing, and app store revenue.
Evans also compared it to “investment banker ranking tables”: Pick different metrics and you get a different results.
Business Insider’s Jim Edwards asked Evans about whether Apple should be concerned about Android’s growing userbase — an audience that is likely to grow even further as it brings low-end, cheap products to emerging markets where consumers may be having their first ever mobile experiences.
In response, Evans said that even a “small slither” of the market can equal (in Apple’s case) 700 million devices and that’s big business — Apple is the biggest company in the world in terms of market value after all.
Apple is concentrating on making that high-end, “niche” product and Evans said the company only goes out to make a new product if it can deliver experiences people want, and that it starts with the product and then says “great, what’s the price?” rather than saying “let’s do whatever we have to do to make it $US200.”
Evans added that Apple’s iOS remains dominant in mindshare amongst developers (in other words, they still think of developing apps for iOS first, rather than on Android,) which is reinforced by the recent launch of the Apple Watch. That’s part of the reason why it does not necessarily need to chase a mid-tier smartphone to catch up with Android.
He used an analogy to explain this that Mark Andreessen often draws upon when talking about Apple: “Apple is BMW. And they don’t worry about sales of motorcycles, rickshaws, or the VW Golf. But the kind of thing they do worry about are sales of Lexus.”
In other words, Apple may be “losing” to Google when you look at some metrics of comparison. But Apple’s perfectly comfortable with that, and it’s currently winning on the metrics that align with the principles of the company.
Disclosure: Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz, is an investor in Business Insider.
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