The war between Apple and Google over mobile “platform” market share is the most important issue in tech right now, arguably.
While there is certainly room for two mobile device systems, the war between iOS and Android in the long-run will shift billions of dollars in app development revenue and advertising fees.
This chart, below, is a stark illustration of exactly where the battle lines are drawn in that war.
The war will also affect mobile device sales. Right now, Apple is “winning” this war because its mobile operating system, iOS, is both popular with user and app developers. All the good apps appear on iPhones and iPads first.
Google is coming second. Even though more people use its Android platform, iOS is the preferred platform for apps as a business. (BlackBerry and Microsoft appear to have lost this war years ago — a reminder of how consequential the battle is.)
But iPhones and iPads are expensive. That’s a problem in a world where most people are poor, or at least poor compared to Americans and Western Europeans.
As we’ve argued before, Google is gobbling up market share by providing Android for free to any phone maker that wants it, vastly reducing the cost of making phones — and thus their price to consumers.
This chart from Benedict Evans, an analyst at Andreessen Horowitz, is a somewhat tongue in cheek look at how iOS and Android divide the world they live in. It’s based on Facebook login data, but Facebook is used so ubiquitously on mobile phones that it’s a good proxy for actual users. As you can see, in places like Greenwich, Conn., where hedge fund managers and investment bankers tend to live, Apple dominates. But India is Android territory:
Evans describes his chart as “unfair” — you can’t really compare Greenwich to India — but the larger point it makes is completely fair: In a world where devices and their operating systems just get cheaper and better, can Apple always be sure that selling the most expensive devices possible is a winning formula for the long run?
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