Android v. iOS Part 6: The Future


Last week, we took a deep dive into the Android and iOS operating systems, looking at market share, profits, developers and platforms. Today we wrap up the series and attempt to peer into the probable futures of these two great mobile operating systems.

The truth is, seeing the futures of Android and iOS isn’t so much about following the signs – there’s plenty of them and they’re almost all pointing in the same direction – it’s much more about unlearning some of the lessons that we’d thought we’d learned. When it comes to Android and iOS, it’s not what we don’t know that hurts us so, it’s what we “know” that just ain’t so. Once we free our minds from past preconceptions, the scales will fall will from our eyes and the broad outlines of what is and what is about to happen will become clearer.

1) It is a mistake to assume that the “best” operating system will “win”

“Best” is a subjective opinion, one of the weakest forms of evidence.

“Best” is contextual. What’s right for one may not be what’s right for another. A school bus is a poor form of transporatation- unless one is a school bus driver. What’s “best” needs to be what’s best for the user, not what’s best for you or me.

“Best” is often irrelevant. Betamax may have been the best video recording device on the market, but it didn’t win out over the VCR. Things such as distribution, production, costs, marketing, first to market, and a slew of other factors often trumps “best”.

Let’s take our focus off of our subjective opinions as to what is “best” and rest our gaze, instead, on objective, measurable, factual information.

2) It is a mistake to assume that any operating system will “win”

Android v. iOS is undoubtably a platform war, however, not every platform war ends with a single standard.

— Musical records split into two standards with the 33 1/3 being used for albums and 45’s being used for singles.
— Gaming consoles are currently split into three different standards.
— Petroleum is split into two standards, with gasoline (the American term) being used for most cars and diesel being used for most trucks and other heavy commercial vehicles.

All of these standards exist side-by-side and serve different markets. And that is what is happening with Android and iOS too. We need to stop focusing on the idea that one mobile operating system is going to serve every market and, instead, start focusing on which markets are being best served by each operating system.

3) It is a mistake to let the exception swallow the rule

An exception to a rule does not invalidate the rule. So long as something is true most of time, it’s worth noting. Too often we focus on the exceptions and let those exceptions blind us to the overall patterns.

It’s important to recognize the exceptions to a rule. But it’s even more important to recognize which is the rule and which is the exception.

4) It is a mistake to assume that market share equals profits for Google

Whenever it’s pointed out that iOS is making a lot more money for Apple than Android is making for Google, or when it is pointed out that that iOS is making a lot more money for iOS developers than Android is making for Android developers, we’re told that Google has a different business model than Apple – that Google is selling eyeballs (advertisements) and that market share matters because every Android device is another pair of eyeballs consuming Google services and Android advertisements.

That’s a fine theory and all except for one thing: It’s simply not happening.

Google’s business model is no where near as profitable as Apple’s. Google gives away Android in order to make money from Google services and Google ads on a per device basis. It is estimated that Google makes $6.50 per device. Apple, on the other hand, makes an estimated $300 per iPhone and Apple sells apps and ads on top of that. For Google’s Android to come close to matching Apple’s, Android devices would have to outsell the Apple’s iOS devices by a factor of 30 to 1. (Source)

Further, Google’s mobile ad model is not working all that well. There is little correlation between Android’s market share and Android’s ad revenue. According to e-Marketer, Google earned $125 million in mobile display ad revenues in the US last year, compared to $92 million by Apple. While that’s 30% more ad revenue than Apple, Google has acknowledged that two-thirds of their mobile revenues come from iOS, not Android, devices.

All in all, Mobile ads are simply not shaping up to be the same kind of money maker for Google that desktop ads are. According to research by Internet Retailer, Invodo, and Comscore, mobile video appears to be a more effective than display ads in converting potential customers into paying customers. And 70% of the retail videos accessed by mobile devices are accessed by an iOS devices, not Android devices. (Source)

An even more disturbing trend for Google is the migration from search to apps. Users are increasingly using apps rather than search, and Apple leads in the app market by the number of apps, the amount of money made in apps, the number of developers developing apps and the “buzz factor” surrounding new apps too. (Source)

Flurry Analytics reports that on mobile devices, 94 minutes per day are spent on apps compared to 72 minutes on the web. Mobile users are spending more and more of their time going directly to an app that gives them exactly the information they want and they are spending less and less of their time searching the mobile web. (Source) That’s good for apps. That’s bad for Google search revenue model.

Android may have market share, but that market share is not translating into dollars – not for Google and not for Android’s developers either. With mobile users trending toward the use of apps and away from the use of search, despite Android’s greater market share, it’s going to become more and more difficult for Google to keep up with Apple’s revenues and for Android’s developers to keep up with the revenues being made by iOS developers.

One final point on profits. I can anticipate the argument that it is unfair to compare Google to Apple – that Google’s business model and Apple’s business models are nothing alike – that Google gives away the Android operating system; that Apple sells both the operating system and the hardware; that, of course Apple makes more money than Google. This argument complete rubbish.

There’s nothing fairer than comparing profits to profits. Profits are the great equalizer. The top lines of companies can often be quite different, but the bottom line is how every company is ultimately measured. It’s not unfair to compare profits – it’s exactly what we SHOULD be comparing.

It is true that Google and Apple have very different business models. So what? Business models are a strategic decision made by the companies themselves. Google chose it’s business model. Now that have to live with the results.

5) It is a mistake to assume that market share equals retention

One argument for the value of Android’s greater market share is the contention that Android gets to new smartphone owners first, builds unshakable loyalty in the Android brand and locks iOS mobile devices out of the market thus insuring iOS’s demise and Android’s future market domination. Only thing is, all of the existing evidence points in to the exact opposite conclusion.

— iOS has a 75% satisfaction rating with Android coming in a distant second at 47%. (Source)

— iPhone has topped J.D. Power’s semi-annual satisfaction list 7 straight times. (Source)

— iPad has an astonishing 98% satisfaction rating. (Source)

— iPhone owners are the least likely to switch from their carriers – even when that carrier’s service is deemed to be just awful. (Source)

Goldman Sachs recently conducted an extensive consumer survey of over 1,000 Apple iOS users and reported that:

— 71% of respondents are “highly likely” to choose an Apple device for their next tablet or smartphone purchase, while 23% are “likely” to stick with the platform. In other words, 94% of respondents are “highly likely” or “likely” to purchase their next tablet or smartphone from Apple. Only 1% of respondents said that their next device purchase was “unlikely” or “highly unlikely” to be from Apple. Further, a surprising 21% of respondents to the survey said: “there isn’t a discount that would make it worthwhile” to leave the Apple platform. Now that’s brand loyalty.

— A study by Gene Munster at Piper Jaffray indicates that only 47% of Android users expect to buy another Android device and 42% expect to buy an iPhone. (Source)

— Another study by Gfk in the UK indicated that 84% of iPhone users will repurchase an iPhone compared to just 60% who would repurchase an Android phone. (Source)

— A survey of more than 2,000 smartphone users by Robert W. Baird analyst William Power shows that 48% of Android smartphone users plan on buying another Android device for their next smartphone while 17% say they plan to buy an iPhone and 34% say they’re undecided. The story is much different for fans of Apple’s smartphone, however, as 77% say they plan to buy an iPhone for their next smartphone, with just 5% planning to switch to Android device and 18% still undecided. (Source)

Android may be winning the race to the new smartphone consumer, but Android is not retaining those users. Switching is primarily a one way street, with Android users going from Android to iOS, but iOS user seldom leaving the iOS platform.

6) It is a mistake to assume that market share domination equals app ecosystem domination

When it comes to platform, developer share – not end user market share – is what matters. And iOS dominates Android in developer share.

iOS developers are paid better, develop for iOS first and iOS customers buy more apps and pay more for them.

It has been argued that Android’s platform is every bit as good as the iOS platform. That is demonstrably untrue.

— iOS overall developer revenue is six times greater than Android developer revenue. You don’t generate that much more revenue without having first generated much more value to your customers.

— There are over 43 thousand Apple iOS developers and 10 thousand Android developers. 33 thousand additional developers add a lot of value to the iOS platform.

— There are seven iOS apps for every three Android apps. Arguing that more apps has no more value than less apps is not an argument, it’s an assertion that reality doesn’t exist.

Argue as loudly as you like that the Android platform is as good as the iOS platform. The iOS developers, the iOS apps and the iOS buyers will shout you down.

For additional details and sources, see: Android v. iOS Part 4: Developers

Some day, all this may change, but if it does change, it will be because of a change in developer share, not a change in market share.


Android and iOS have different inherent strengths and weaknesses and instead of fruitlessly trying to decide which operating system is going to win everywhere, we should be focusing our efforts on determining which markets each OS is destined to dominate. Neither Android nor iOS is going away. Instead, each OS is going to go their separate ways.

Android’s value is in the device. iOS’s value is in the platform. Android will take the low end of the market. iOS will take the high end.

Android will appeal to third-world nations, emerging markets, tech aficionado’s who admire the virtues of “open”, those who require more freedom, those who require more options, those who require more diversity, those who use a single device, the cost conscious, and those who admire the value of free.

iOS will appeal to more established nations, maturing markets, non-technical users who admire the virtues of easy and intuitive, those who require more security, those who require more consistency, those who require more integration, those who need multi-device management across multiple device form factors, the quality conscious, and those who fear Google’s ad-supported business model.

iOS will appeal to Enterprise, businesses, governments, institutions, organizations, and other entities that require more structure and control. (As one who lived through the Windows v. Mac wars, the irony of this statement is not lost on me.)


“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future” – attributed to Yogi Berra

The truth is, we’re already living in the future of the Android and iOS operating systems. Both are well along on their respective paths. The future is going to be much the same as the present – only more so.

Android will continue to grow like a weed. iOS will continue to grow like a well tended farm.

Android will continue to rapidly iterate their hardware and their operating system. iOS will continue to relentlessly integrate their hardware with their software and their platform ecosystem – methodically moving both their iOS and their OS X software platforms forward together in lock-step.

Android will continue selling a mind-numbing array of diverse products. iOS will continue selling products like the three year old iPhone 3GS because iOS’ value is found primarily in the platform, not in the the device itself.

These two great operating systems actually complement one another. The Yin to the others Yang. And one unintended consequence of that symbiosis is that they will continue to hold the dogs of anti-trust at bay. No one is going to sue Apple for anti-trust so long as Android has most of the market share. And it’s going to be awfully hard to say that Android has a monopoly on mobile phones when Apple’s iOS has most of the profits.

Android and iOS is less about which one is superior and more about their relative strengths and weaknesses. It’s less about how they compete with one another and more about how they complement one another. It’s less about their radically different futures and more about how the future is going to be an extension of the present.

The future is uncertain and there are sure to be lots of twists and turns along the way. But don’t expect this war to come to a head any time too soon. The two sides are too evenly matched and yet too divergent in form. Like Britain and France during the Napoleonic wars, Britain ruled the sea and France ruled the land and seldom did the twain meet. But unlike the Napoleonic wars, don’t expect there to be a decisive battle of Waterloo. A lingering, uneasy state of detente is far more likely.

Published by

John Kirk

John R. Kirk is a recovering attorney. He has also worked as a financial advisor and a business coach. His love affair with computing started with his purchase of the original Mac in 1985. His primary interest is the field of personal computing (which includes phones, tablets, notebooks and desktops) and his primary focus is on long-term business strategies: What makes a company unique; How do those unique qualities aid or inhibit the success of the company; and why don’t (or can’t) other companies adopt the successful attributes of their competitors?

216 thoughts on “Android v. iOS Part 6: The Future”

  1. “One final point on profits. I can anticipate the argument that it is unfair to compare Google to Apple – that Google’s business model and Apple’s business models are nothing alike – that Google gives away the Android operating system; that Apple sells both the operating system and the hardware; that, of course Apple makes more money than Google. This argument complete rubbish.”

    I agree that it is not unfair to compare Google to Apple. And if someone makes that argument, all one would have to point out is the point of the series wasn’t comparing Google to Apple, but Android to iOS and an analysis of what many points of data means to consumers, developers, device makers, and us tech wonks in general.

    Not that you were addressing my post in another section, my point was that it is difficult to compare Android to iOS because iOS has and is part of a singular business model (similarly with Windows). Android is not. But I think you have done an excellent job of explaining why and how that is working against it, at least from the standpoint of who is and isn’t making money.

    The psychographic question, which is probably unanswerable yet I think implied in the whole series, if no one is making money (other than Samsung) why is it still so prevalent an OS? Is it simply that it is good enough, ala VHS?

    Great series.

    1. On profits, you probably have to add up the profit of ALL Android phone makers, plus the mobile ad revenue that Google generates, Google Play, etc.. That would really be a fair comparison. The scope of the Android ecosystem is much wider than Apple’s.

      1. I suppose that’s true, although it would probably work against the Android figure since many of the players involved are in the red. The scope is only wider in the sense that there are more hardware makers, not in any net positive sense to profits.


      2. “you probably have to add up the profit of ALL Android phone makers, plus the mobile ad revenue that Google generates,”

        Well, Samsung + Apple is 108% of smartphone profits. They’re profitable. All the rest are down -8%.

  2. What the author described is probably the most hopeful scenario for Apple. How it is really going to play out is probably going to be a little rougher than that for Apple. The technical gap between Android devices and iPhone devices is accelerating. How can Apple maintain even the status quo of ~20% market share will be a big challenge itself.

    1. Android fragmentation and this means Apple is closing in the gap on market share. Also Windows 8 is coming, if anything they will take away ‘eye balls’ from Android users more than they are going to do with iOS.

  3. What happened? All your other parts of the series were scathing Apple propaganda & now you say it is about individual choice & how they complement each other? You numbers do not take into consideration hobbyist development communities either. Many apps are free & many developments & improvements made to Android originate from sites like XDA & Root Wiki. Android has heavy participation in this area. However, with Apple, Jailbreaking is nothing more than a way to use pirated apps & really has no other relevant use. You also conveniently missed a few of huge holes in iOS security, being that iOS is one ofe the few, if not the only, mobile OS that has huge holes in the way it handles MMS messages, allowing for spoofed numbers to be used.

    Personally I agree that both have their strengths & uses. However, I also think that Android has clearly shown the greatest level of achievement when it comes to innovation. The iPhone for instance really has not changed since it’s inception, while huge strides & progress have been made in the world of Android. You also have to consider that Android’s biggest manufacturers profit handsomely from Apple & their products as well. On some models the overall B.O.M. for Apple devices is accounted for by up to as much as 50% by Samsung. Samsung makes the Retina display, along with LG now, as well as the memory, processors (GPU & CPU) as well as many other components.

    It all boils down to personal choice in the end & how “Great” or profitable something is, is not always indicative of what the future holds. I personally will never buy anything Apple for the simple fact that is is a closed platform offered by a greedy company that plays no part in building infrastructure or in enhancing the technology standards. Apple many time claimed that Samsung should not be able to benefit from Apple’s innovation, however, without Nokia, Motorola, Samsung & Qualcomm (plus many others) Apple’s iOS devices would not have wifi, 3G, 4G, Bluetooth & a slew of other standard essential technologies. Without those companies & the money & collaborative efforts they put forth in research & development, the iPhone would still be nothing more than an iPod touch at best. Remember, RIM was once the big boy on the block & just look where they are today. Point in case of greed, Apple wanted companies to pay them 30 to $40 USD per device for use of rectangles with rounded corners (a feature found on many of my PPC & WinCE devices of yesteryear), while they refused to talk about a $2 to $8 USD per device royalty for the standard essential patents they have to use for the device to even be able to communicate. They called the opening number of 2.5% “unfair & discriminatory while demanding other companies pay asinine royalties for items that are meaningless to performance and functionality.

    1. George,

      You’re aware that Apple has IP agreements with and pays these guys for the patent tech Apple uses?

      “…without Nokia, Motorola, Samsung & Qualcomm (plus many others) Apple’s iOS devices would not have wifi, 3G, 4G, Bluetooth & a slew of other standard essential technologies.”

      (Apple’s payment to Samsung for its SEP Standards Essential Patents has been delayed while courts pick over Samsung’s attempt to evade its FRAND commitments.)

      1. Wrong…Apple has refused to negotiate or pay for several SEP’s. Hell, to this date they still haven’t paid anything to British inventor Krammer, whom Apple admitted in court back in 2008 had invented the technology the iPod was based on.
        Research people.

        1. Well, Apple certainly has given him more money and recognition than anyone else has. (not to mention his own company letting the patent drop due to, in seems, infighting at the company).

          Research shows, anyway.


    2. “Point in case of greed, Apple wanted companies to pay them 30 to $40 USD per device for use of rectangles with rounded corners”

      I guess you think Samsung’s lawyers weren’t lying when they told this whopper.

      1. I don’t listen to either side. I have seen first hand the things and ways Samsung builds technology. The point however, was not disputed by Apple. Now you do your own research. Or do you think everything on the web is true? In that case I’m a French model…bonjour…

        1. Actually, I thought it was Apple who brought it up and I thought it was Apple giving Samsung pretty much carte blanche to clone (the whole portfolio of patents, not just the _design_ patents) the iPhone ($30) and the iPad ($40) since they were such an important partner to Apple. Even offered a 20% discount if Samsung cross licensed patents to Apple (doesn’t sound like someone who wants to lift someone else’s patents to me).

          The grand total would have been a cool $250 million. Considerably less than the $1 billion they got hit with. So much for thinking it was cheaper to steal Apple’s patents. Also, cheap considering these weren’t SEP patents governed by FRAND rules.

          1. Actually the question was already answered. In fact is there for anyone to see. Opinions are opinions and facts are facts. Let’s see on the twelfth if Apple has added anything they created or that’s not been on Android already for a year. It was a great product, but they’ve locked themselves into always being second, a company that just repackages existing technology in lieu of inventing or creating anything original. I am sure the iPhone was amazing to you, but I have had the ability to do anything the iPhone can do since the days of WiinCE.

          2. George, I think you are falling into many of the traps that people so often fall into. Many fail in understanding the difference between invention and innovation and it is fundamental. I speak regularly with every manufacturer of personal computing hardware and this difference is clearly understood. Many top execs who define this industry fully understand this difference and are the wiser because of it.

            So to try and get everyone on the same page, and since a commenter earlier, I believe it was you, used the ingredients analogy, I strongly encourage this post by Jean-Louis Gassee who also uses the chef analogy to help us understand the difference between innovation and invention.

            Second, Android is great, I use it regularly, but we should not forget that it most likely would not exist without Apple. We should not forget that Eric Schmidt was on Apple’s board during the infant stages of the iPhone and iOS and was privy to all the reasons Steve and Apple wanted to go after this space. In fact he would have had to vote on the approval to go after this market and its strategic direction.

            You are right many great things on Android but there are also many great things on iOS. I feel a key to this is understand that they serve different markets to a degree and we should have the wisdom to understand each platform appeals to different consumers for specific reasons.

            But the fact remains that Apple’s value ecosystem is working out better for more people. Software developers of all screens agree, corporations and IT departments who struggle with Android agree, third party accessory companies agree, etc.. Apple has created more value for a number of other industries and upstarts where Android has really only created value for Google.

            Do the analysis of which Android vendors are making money and how much they are making and you see quickly that sustaining will be very difficult especially once they have to support Windows phone as well.

            In is undeniable the overall market effect in positive ways Apple has had for many in the industry. Yes they are in to make money for themselves but they have also created value for parallel industries that would not exist if they didn’t.

            So read Gassee’s article and hopefully we can continue to have an informed discussion on the things we should be cheering for holistically in this market not cheering against.


          3. “Opinions are opinions and facts are facts.”

            Truest thing you’ve said yet. What has frustrated me the most in this discussion is I never once brought into question your integrity or intelligence. I simply disagreed with your assessments, characterizations, and conclusions. Apparently this is a very personal discussion for you, not sure why. But sorry to hear that, whatever the reason.


          1. as a Jonny come Lately.

            Do you really think your collection of standards tropes gains credibility by ripening over time like a dead possum in the Sun?

    3. ” However, I also think that Android has clearly shown the greatest level of achievement when it comes to innovation.”

      Can you elaborate on this? Are your referring to mainly hardware or are there specific software innovation you feel are great achievements?

      With hardware I see bigger screens and with software I see some cool vendor specific features but not sure I’d call anything a great achievement of innovation.

      So I would be curious on your fleshing out of that statement.


      1. Even in basic technology evolution. Most of the other true tech companies participate, or participated, in 3GPP, ORG, etc. You know the collaborative standards that have given us 3G over Edge, 4G (enhanced backhaul) over 3G & LTE over Faux-G. Not too mention 802.11 B/G/N, Bluetooth 3.0, USB 3.0 & DLNA.
        The true tech companies that actually further the technological evolution. Did you know that Apple has around 3000 patents, 1100 give or take, that deal with mobile devices. Compare that to the nearly 20000 of companies like Nokia or Samsung, many of which are used by Apple device for necessary tasks like cell tower one-off, connectivity, etc…
        Apple takes advantage of these SEP technologies without contributing back. As for the BSD comment, Apple has to since OS X is just a gui on top of Unix BSD, however they do not contribute back with commits so it’s still not the same. I know it’s not open source like a Linux distro, but that also goes to my point of not contributing to the advancement & evolution of the technology as a whole. Just peruse Apple’s patents. Now compare them to those of Samsung, Motorola, Nokia, AT&T, etc… Then tell me honestly you think Apple is the most innovative company. We are talking Apple’s & Orange’s. One has patents on shapes, yes others as well, not just shapes, but they still pale in comparison to the technologies Qualcomm and Samsung have patented. Useful technologies that Apple & HTC & every other manufacturer use just to be able to connect to the network, or for navigation, or even LTE data speeds.

        1. Never mind that none of this has anything to do with the analysis of the articles, and never mind that the quantity of patents a company holds (no matter how old) has no direct bearing to the actual quality of the patents, none of that is helping Motorola or Nokia compete in the market place today.


      2. @benbajarin:disqus

        You want to know about android software innovations? For starters, lets talk about the notification system that has been in place since android 1.5 that was blatantly copied by Apple in iOS5. What about the entire concept of widgets, or launchers? You appear to be a person who doesn’t have experience with android at all or you would know this. This is basic Android functionality that has been in Android for years. Apple is just now figuring out how to duplicate it in the same fashion Android has been improving on iOS concepts.

        1. You are missing what I am asking for. AND for the record I use a Gal Nexus with Jelly Bean. I agree there are some cool features and yes absolutely notifications are superior in Android, but I was asking what the commenter meant by achievement in innovation.

          Perhaps I have bigger expectations around innovation. Retina display on iPad that is innovative. Some of the camera functions HTC and Samsung are doing are innovative, etc.

          What I was asking was for a more robust list of innovations. The things you mentioned are useful features. Apple does the same thing sometimes they release something innovative sometimes it is just useful.

          I think more careful observation needs to be made to the benefits of each platform and the markets they are designed to serve as John points out in his column.

    4. “You numbers do not take into consideration hobbyist development communities either. Many apps are free & many developments & improvements made to Android originate from sites like XDA & Root Wiki. Android has heavy participation in this area.”

      (Apple’s involvement with projects like BSD and Webkit aside) Unless you are trying to argue that this is true of the Android market at large, or anything other than a niche market, that is his point. He does take into consideration that the Android market is not a broad ranging market that is based on _a_ typical user. And to try to argue that is contrary to the typical overall-market-share-is-everything argument, because apparently it isn’t.


    5. “However, I also think that Android has clearly shown the greatest level of achievement when it comes to innovation.” – George Leon

      Just for the sake of argument, let’s say that you are right and all the innovation is on Android’s side. All the satisfaction numbers, however, are on iOS’s side (see section #5, above.) What good is innovation if it doesn’t make one’s customers’s more satisfied? If the point of innovation is to provide one’s customers with a more satisfying experience, then iOS is far more innovative than Android is.

      1. I never said Apple wasn’t great at marketing or the packaging of existing technology. In fact they are the best company in history of when it comes to this. You can also be more satisfied by an inferior product by having less demands or needs. My intent is not to slam Apple for lack of quality, merely to get others to look at where the technology is & who has brought us there. It’s like a bakery, anyone can make a chocolate cake, Apple just has tastier frosting. Eventually though people want more than chocolate cake, they want pineapple upside down cake. Apple will have to wait for someone to make the ingredients & grow the pineapple though, because they are a recipe company, they don’t make the wonderful ingredients.

        1. Why can’t anyone else make tastier frosting or that pineapple upside down cake? Why do they have to wait for Apple? Can they not come up with their own recipe? What’s the point of coming up with wonderful ingredients if you can’t do anything with them?


          1. They are. LTE, bigger screens better faster features & now that they’ve been doing it for awhile, here comes Apple again taking what works without contributing to the advancement of the industry. They are like a Monday morning quarterback that takes the displays and memory and all the other components and do a brilliant job of packaging them and marketing them, but it will eventually catch up with them and the companies that built the industry will get feed up and cut them off from the SEP’s they need to function. Mark my words, especially as they try to push into the Asian market.

          2. So, in other words no one else can make a better recipe. In your narrative, Apple may be their only hope to make any money at all since no one else can make anything to open up the wallets of the consumer. So Apple IS as good as it gets. That’s too bad.


          3. Hmmm. Seems Apple not only owns, but also contributed to the LTE patent portfolio. I guess they can make ingredients, too. What was it you said elsewhere? Research, people.


          4. you need Apple money and branding power. Actually I think they even do not care, since people are only interested of what Apple produces.

        2. Apple has been on the cutting edge of technology for at least 10 years, leading the industry and introducing one new feature after another ahead of everybody else. But some people seem determined to deny that, and I guess you can believe whatever you like.

          1. I could make a list and I believe it would confirm what I said. But I don’t think you’d accept it as “proof” so why bother?

          2. Remember a lot of Apple’s innovations have been taking stuff out. I assume you’re not using floppies any more? And USB did nothing until Apple got rid of all the legacy ports and made it essential.

            I would also say that Ultrabooks owe a little to Apple’s hardware development and innovation as well as completely resetting the phone and tablet markets.

            I find it frustrating and a little sad that Android fans go out of their way to slag off everything Apple while they are perfectly happy to live in a world where their favorite hardware manufacturer is free to rip off what Apple brings to the table.

          3. You give no valid argument. Opinion without supporting facts. The fact is USB 1.1 is what made usb popular because it solved many of the early release issues. Like current standards it was adopted by Windows a year ahead of Apple & in fact was joint effort of Compaq, Intel, Microsoft and NEC. Note, that Apple is not mentioned. This again supports the fact that Apple waits for others to invent and innovate, then jumps on board, sometimes licensing the technology, others times by buying the company, whether friendly or hostile in nature, occasionally without doing either, just take what they want and use legal costs as a shield from smaller companies.

          4. USB port were sitting unused on a huge number of Windows systems until Apple forced the issue with the iMac. Innovation comes in many forms.

          5. OK, I’ll cite just one: Webkit. It made mobile browsing useful–and it is open source.

          6. Also, firewire. Thunderbolt. Part of the PowerPC team. That’s just the stuff i remember. Besides I’m just too old to keep up with and care about this part of the argument. As Ben keeps saying innovation does not have to equate to invention. A lot of stuff gets “invented”. Few of those things actually make a difference. Fewer still get turned into something innovative, whether by the inventor or someone else.


          7. Apple did not cannot claim that it invented Firewire (Texas Instruments and others contributed) and it sure as heck did not invent Thunderbolt (thanks Intel).

          8. Actually, Firewire is Apple’s implementation of the IEEE1394 spec that was initiated by Apple.

            Similarly Thunderbolt is Apple’s implementation of Light Peak, which Intel collaborated with Apple.

            Both of these were also addressing the point that somehow Apple doesn’t work with other tech companies to initiate, develop, and innovate technology.

            Not sure why you feel the need to eliminate Apple’s part in both of these technologies.


          9. Steve,

            I should have known you would find about the only one. I’ll give you credit on that one. It is so much better than the responses I normally get when posing that question. Let me look up a few of the responses I have gotten in the past month.

            8. The Mouse – I don’t think so, don’t have time to look up what I found before, but I think a wooden prototype was made in the early 80’s.
            7. USB – Already responded about this.
            6. OS X – Maybe the GUI of OS X, since it’s a Unix platform, &
            that’s debatable.
            5. App Store – Linspire or one of the Unbuntu app stores maybe?
            4. Metallic or Alloy Uni-body Construction for Electronics (I gave credit for this response as well, though no sane manufacturer would want to put themselves through the process)
            3. Gestures – not gonna touch it.
            2. Smartphone – Same as above
            1. MP3 or Digital Music Player – Nope

            Some of the responses, well I just won’t post them because I truly can’t tell if they were serious of factious.

            I believe you also mentioned that Apple had participated in the development of LTE or in the standards regarding LTE. I would be curious to see any reference on that as the only thing I could find regarding Apple & 4g or LTE was that they had been fined for misleading statements in Australia:
            The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) filed a petition in Australian

            federal court against Apple for labeling its iPad device as “iPad with WiFi + 4G” when the

            device was not capable of connecting to Australia’s 4G network. Apple was fined $2.25 million

            by the court for its misleading advertisements. ACCC, Press Release, Apple Pty Ltd Penalised

            $2.25 million for Misleading “iPad with WiFi + 4G” Claims (Jun. 21, 2012).

            However, I could not find any references to their participation in 3GPP, 3GPP2, IRT or IMT Advanced.

            Also, to whomever mentioned it:

            Innovation = A new method, idea, product, etc: “technological innovations”.

            Innovate = Make changes in something established, esp. by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.

            Invent = Create or design (something that has not existed before); be the originator of.

            Innovation has been re-defined now to include packaging existing technologies & marketing them really well, i guess.

            Just as an example, take a look at the images here:

            This is information from another pro-Apple tech site, not something you can say was put out there by an “Android fanatic” & is further reinforced by the companies R&D spending which I don’t believe has ever been over 2% of revenue. In fact, & again supportive of my statements, most of Apple’s expenses are due to administration & marketing.

            I would say the biggest difference between Apple & the other tech companies, to borrow a phrase I recently read & liked but can’t properly acknowledge, is that Apple is a great marketing & design firm with a few engineers, while many of the others are great engineering firms with a few designers. This strategy has been employed numerous times in the past by some of the biggest engineered equipment companies in the world. The big guy that has become the 800lb gorilla of the market eventually is usurped by the new guy that is bringing real invention & innovation to the market place. Form can only hold function at bay for so long & as Apple is seeing now in China and BRIC regions in general, where they are losing market share, consumers begin wanting & expecting more technology & value.

            In the future, if you would be so kind, I’d love to see any reference links you can provide. I for one appreciate being pointed to unbiased documentation, whether it supports my view or not. I like Apple products just fine, but they just don’t do or have everything I require from my device. Apples has what are now great classic products & I for one hope they take a queue from Android & start adding new features & capabilities that build value. I would switch if they made a new product
            that fulfilled my requirements & brought more value to me (& I don’t mean value in price).

          10. You can never learn everything, at least not in life. Thanks, good info to sort thru.
            I’m curious to see how much can be attributed to Apple R&D. I really am not a big Android fanatic & in this excersize I have learned a few things, mostly related to the lawsuit and just how badly the “news” coverage misrepresented certain findings. I personally think right now android offers more features and useful utilities with better hardware specs. That may change on Sept 12, but I somehow doubt that sense Apple is now the one playing catch-up.

          11. Hey, I’m a huge cynic at heart. I wish I understood enough to figure out how many of the patents in the portfolio actually have anything to do with the technology. At this point any SEP portfolio seems primarily politics wrapped around the function.

            And ultimately, _especially_ in an industry that lives off of NDAs like water, we have no idea of all the agreements that don’t make it into the news. Take the whole MS licensing from Apple nugget that came out in court. If not for the suit, we would _never_ have heard about that, except maybe in Balmer’s post-humus biography.


          12. There is an important difference between invention and innovation, as we keep pointing out. Apple may not be Edison when it comes to inventing, but the company is a great innovator. Let’s take your first example, the mouse, There’s no question about who invented it: Douglas Engelbart of SRI (along with a one-handed chording keyboard that never caught on.) And the first computer to use it was the Xerox Altos/Star workstation. But it was Apple that made the mouse a universal tool. That is innovation by any standard.

          13. “Innovation has been re-defined now to include packaging existing technologies & marketing them really well, i guess.”

            Well, based on most Android handset and tablet makers, that is pretty much what they think, too—just putting a bunch of features in one package and try to market it as cool and exciting and “techie”. You should research the whole “form follows function” _aesthetic_ history. And make no mistake, it is an aesthetic. In that light no Android maker holds a candle to Apple, although Nokia and MS seem to be getting a clue. Most Android makers are more like the Homer Simpson car.

            This is a marketing mistake that also needs to get debunked. Ask any marketer, marketing cannot make a product great. You can have the best marketing in the world, but if you have a lousy product it won’t matter. Just ask anyone who thought a commercial for a movie was great but then when they saw the movie it was crap. They put the best parts of the movie in the commercial and the rest was filler.

            If Apple’s products, with regard to this discussion, the iPhone and iPad specifically, were simply the same thing everyone else was already doing and making, Apple wouldn’t have made it past the first iPhone. It would have just been the status quo repackaged.

            History shows this is not the case.

            “I would switch if they made a new product that fulfilled my requirements & brought more value to me (& I don’t mean value in price).”

            Finally, sincerity and honesty! So can you accept that for many people (regardless of their “religion”) that the iPhone and iPad are more than fulfilling their requirements and bringing exactly the value they are looking for and they are no less a human for it? Can’t we all just get along?


          14. Innovation has been re-defined now to include packaging existing technologies & marketing them really well, i guess.

            Ignorance has been defined as believing that since some one else came up with multi-touch technology, Apple merely dumped that into the phone and a full blown multi-touch UI was born.

            Your inability to grasp Apple’s accomplishments with regards to actually making these technologies useful is pathetic. Apple put a considerable amount of effort into their products to make them as useful and ground breaking as they are. Pretending that the importance this accomplishment is severely reduced because key technologies were developed elsewhere is delusional. You are in essence arguing that the inventor of fuel injection is responsible for the 2005 Ford Mustang.

          15. ” Let me look up a few of the responses I have gotten in the past month.”

            One of the things I thoroughly enjoy about this site and the writers here, you will never see them credit Apple as doing something Apple didn’t do. And that is mostly true for the respondents, too. The other person who mentioned USB also was careful to say that Apple helped USB become ubiquitous and popular, not that they invented USB.

            I appreciate the commenters here more than any other site/blog/pundit because, as they say in the header, _intelligent_ opinions. Thoughtful and rational with lots of experience in the industry to back them up. And they value dissenting views, provided they are reasonably and rationally presented. That only serves to help everyone.

            And largely unflappable! Big plus, in my eyes.


          16. Oh, yeah, and the whole MPEG, especially the MP4 part. (speaking of contributing to a group effort)


          17. Probably because Android has beaten Apple to the punch on almost everything. Android had a front camera before Iphone, Android had HD video recording before Iphone, Android had multitasking before Apple, Apple stole the drop down notification menu, Android had dual core processors first, Android had turn by turn navigation first, etc etc

          18. leading the industry with what, can you provide any example? Usually they take an existing technology no one cares about, they fit in in a shiny case, they spend millions in marketing to make people believe it is exactly what they were waiting for and that’s it.

        3. Apple just has tastier frosting.

          A tastier frosting that financially ruined all the mobile phone incumbents who could not switch gears fast enough to keep up.

          Please leave the VooDoo Marketing tropes in the 90s where they belong.

  4. So here comes Microsoft, late to the party! What effect will Windows 8 have on iOS and Android? I’ve seen predictions all the way from “Windows 8 will be a disaster” to “Windows 8 will succeed.” It’s going to be interesting to watch!

    Ballmer may bluster and yell about not ceding anything to Apple but when he’s alone in his office, if he’s realistic, he should be nervous.

  5. A satisfying conclusion, JK. Here is what I got out of this journey.

    1. Within any specific app kind, Apple has many more choices from which to choose so it offers micro differences to particular users.

    2. Apple has a proven update history. Who knows if the OS of an Android phone is going to get the next iteration or not. History says “not”.

    3. The range of Android products is terribly split. A few have excellent specs and features, the majority are quick consumables destined to spend most of their health at the back of sock drawers or used as rocks skippers across still waters. The good have very healthy pricing in line with the newest Apple product yet fail to deliver the profits of Apple phones.

    4. While Android appeals to those with thin pockets, their eyes will be on the Apple device and many will bide their time, saving for the Apple of their eye. (tacky and forced, but what the hey)

    5. Open will continue to appeal to the technically minded, just as heath kits and amateur/ham radio did to the hobbyists in the olden times.

    6. Apple users will continue the enjoy bliss; the iffy nature of Android will cause frustration and resentment and further the shift of second phones to the Apple camp. Not all Androids work as expected. With Apple, you know what you’re going to get.

    7. It all comes down to numbers, not individual biases.

    8. In the end there will be fewer and fewer makers of Android products as Samsung squeezes out the other Android competitors. This will probably be a healthy scenario for Apple. One lone duck to set its sights.

    9. MS tablets, whatever they are to be called, will vie for the same audience that find appeal in Android.

    1. The high end Android phones are continually ranked better on tech sites than the Iphone, go to youtube and look at the phone battles by Techno buffalo and Phonedog and others.

      1. Dear Gary,

        You’re under the misguided impression that any Applebody cares about such reviews—(go to Youtube- Indeed?). What I don’t get is why Android people are so obsessed with Apple? We don’t come to crap in your corner of the world, why are Android people so bent on venting in ours? Are they missing something? Well, in fact they are:

        Here are some facts about Apple and Android— (the intelligent parts to the following were scarfed from Ben B ( though he should not be held responsible for any mangling I have done with the summation of his points.

        . . . Apple’s developers take the time to make app experience ideal no matter the screen size. — App developers starting to take advantage and optimise their apps for the new 4” screen, tweaking their UI for the iPhone 5. They are not simply shrinking or expanding their apps to work on smaller or larger screens as is done for the plethora of Android screens, they are in essence creating new app experiences for those screen sizes.

        —Growing and shrinking screens the Android way make for a mucky experience. (’tis my rendering)

        Read all the Android reviews you choose but you will find none that purport the same quality time or effort that result in any similar experience that comes from Apple and its dedicated developers. (mine too)

        From Android, inarguably what you get: cheap plastic, no to rare (extremely rare as in Dodo bird sitings) OS updates, minuscule support, no to rare (just to reaffirm) screen size optimisation i.e.- just the shrinking or growing of a standard page to fit the screen, basically orphaned hardware upon leaving the factory, and objects that end up at the back of sock drawers. (definitely my style)

        Choose wisely . . . then . . . Get on with your life. Enjoy what you’ve got. Live with the results. Eat an apple a day and wash behind your ears. (a few universal laws)

    1. Google were making money with ads on mobile device when the iPhone was the only device on the scene. All this time and all this expense hasn’t really improved their position at all. So what was your point again?

  6. Great conclusion to the series, John.
    The medium term trajectories for iOS and Android are indeed the ones you described.

    Long term though, I doubt Android will be able to remain on top.
    Google has been making lots of enemies lately and the bad blood will come back to bite them. Couple that with the much larger profits and IP portfolios of the enemies and Android’s downfall becomes a statistic certainty.
    The only way to avoid this fate would be for Google to exceed Apple’s pace of innovation.

    Siri and Google Now are important indications that isn’t anywhere close to happening. Although machine learning is a core Google competency and Apple tipped off their hand by buying Siri and not developing it in secret, Apple still beat Google to market by almost a year.

    1. Steve Wozniak has said that Google Now is better than Siri and that Android has more features now than Ios. He is right. You would have to be blind to not admit that.

      1. It doesn’t matter what Woz or any other single individual say.
        The only thing that matters is what the market says.

        Which system has more regular users: Siri or Google Now?
        We have no clear report on that but considering Siri is available on at least 10 times more devices than Google Now is, Siri is well ahead for now.

  7. LOL, Johnny Kirk – what other wishes you got out there?

    By the way, if Apple makes more money off me than Google does, what does it mean? Should I pick Apple because they take more money from their advertisers who, in turn, are passing the higher costs to me? I don’t get it.

    Great article, by the way. But if you lose credibility in this field (Apple-worshiping) you could always try out Scientology. They’re quite alike.

    1. I think you missed some key points of John’s columns and this series. As well as many other key points that I and other of our columnists have pointed out. The bottom line is if you are not interested in Apple products then that is fine and your decision. For many millions upon millions of people around the globe they are choosing Apple product and establishing value in a different way than you are and that is OK.

      John is not trying to convince anyone to buy Apple products he is simply holistically looking at the business reality of the personal computing landscape.

      I use a healthy mix of Android and Apple and Microsoft products so that as my role as a market analyst I can fully evaluate the pros and cons of each platform. They key in all of this is to have the wisdom to be able to see things from others perspectives as well–whether you agree or not. Unfortunately not everyone can resonate with this quote from Aristotle:

      “it is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

  8. Why don’t you just call this blog “Tech.iPinions” because clearly you’re biased towards Android/Google with every article I read. Thought this blog would be a nice mediator site but I guess I was wrong.

    1. Out of curiosity have you read every article on our site? Tech content goes in trends. It is an Apple heavy season and that is what people what to read about currently. however if you go look what we write about MSFT, Googles, Intel, tech and government policy etc., you will get a holistic picture.

      1. I’ll honestly admit I jumped to conclusions a bit. But the main ones I read made Apple seem like god. But then again, they were mostly comparisons. I’ll keep reading the site, but I’ll reserve my final opinion after I’ve seen some very interesting articles.

  9. Actually the retention has proven to be extremely high for Android, I work at Sprint, the retention rate is over 90%. Why did you choose to use obscure polls with questionable methadology? Is this site a joke? No wonder the comments sections are filled with anger towards your articles.

  10. One of the best articles I’ve read comparing Apple and Android. At the end of the day, both should exist to provide a choice for consumers. If you want a walled garden go for iOS. If you want an open fence go with Android

    1. Not a bad summary, at least in terms of apps. The key thing is that different products serve different users, and it’s time for people to stop attacking others for their choices.

    1. Your statement on iOS upgrades is simply wrong. iOS 6 is available on all iPhones back to the 3GS, on 4th generation and later iPod touches, and on the iPad 2 and 3rd generation iPad.

      Siri is only available on the iPhone $s and 5 and the new iPad and touch, but Siri is not the operating system. Certain other features may not be available on certain models because of hardware restrictions (e.g., the presence or absence of cameras.)

      1. but iOS 6 sucks on old devices…like the 3GS shuts off when you have less than 30% battery, my iPad 2 battery last less than before but I do not use any of the new features to justify that, my iPod 4 is barely usable after the update because everything is as slow as hell…seriously? I paid a premium price not to have any problems and now I am fighting with all my devices…

  11. ‘android and iOS is less about which one is superior and more about their
    relative strengths and weaknesses. It’s less about how they compete with
    one another and more about how they complement one another. It’s less
    about their radically different futures and more about how the future is
    going to be an extension of the present.’

    Very well said. except it is about the future of mankind. which one would foster more innovative products. Which one would spread the wealth and generate more jobs. If half of the money apple made is spread over android community, there would be at least 2 to 4 millions jobs created. People buying Apple products is actually slow-poisoning themselves and the rest of United states to death.

    Apple is all about profit which benefits a tiny percentages of people, Android is about spreading leading knowledges which would benefit all.

    IOS kills innovation, Android fosters innovation and future.
    IOS is only an app platform. Android is the platform for all future intelligent gadgets and/or robots.
    IOS robs all profits and created high unemployment rate. Android spreads profits and created jobs.
    IOS is a tyrannic with only one way to do things(Apple Way), Android is democratic which allows different opinions on how to do things (Split platform).
    democracy must defeat tyranny, otherwise there is no future for mankind.

    1. Okay, I give up. You are right. Apple is the nexus of evil. Nothing good, all bad.

      But, really . . . . “People buying Apple products is actually slow-poisoning themselves and the rest of United states to death.” ? ? ? ?

      Hyperbole much?

  12. Hi, I am a student. I am interested in knowing what you can comment on the future market share of iOS and Android?

    1. I see iOS’s market share getting eaten up down by 20% in about 5 yrs time and google constantly using innovative measures to back its app store up and thus having a sustainable growth continuing to eat into apple. iOS will start to stagnate in my opinion by then and lose quite a bit of its edge to compete.Cant give u many figures for this it is just a gut feelin’ I have after seeing how google has jumped onto the the stage .

  13. You had my respect up until #4-6, then the adolescent fandroid troll language emerged. Adult, respectful, logical and well supported points not only win respect, but do a better job of making convincing counterpoints.

    1. Agree, I was definitely a d!ck in those few points and they probably do detract from my logical reply…..but….sometimes it just comes out when I read some of the crazy nonsense.

      And just an fyi I am an Android fan but I am a bigger fan for getting the most for my money. I use Apple’s products when I think they are best suited for the job – I wont replace my ipod mini for anything, my wife loves her macbook, I am writing this on an 8 yr-old laptop running JoliOS, while I stream from my FreeNAS home network using XMBC on an Ubuntu powered machine.

      I just am a lover of technology and don’t want anyone to limit themselves to the sticker on the device.

  14. This is never gonna end , we can bicker about it all day long to no conclusion. The truth is yes I acknowledge that android isn’t having a sustainable business model like apple’s, but we should remember the huge financial and human resources google has on its disposal and thus they can be flexible in changing marketing strategy in upcoming future.I always had a gut feeling that the reason android is having a free-for-all buisness model is cuz it wants to eat away at apple’s business share and slowly take over market essentially killing apple slowly and establishing market monopoly and then its free to do anything. Look at youtube , it has established monopoly over over all other video sites and is going strong now, I can see the same happening.
    Btw good article , very well written , easy to understand and backed up by figures .

  15. I wonder why people get so passionate when defending the brand their prefer, as if they were large shareholders of the companies. I like technology and I have been using Android since almost the beginning. I once had an iPad and some relatives have iPhones. I really find these devices a bit “boring”, but I am seriously thinking in migrating to Apple ecosystem. Why?

    Basically, because as a tool, Apple ecosystem at least FOR ME seems better suit. Most business apps are writing for iOS. For those that that are multi-platform, many times the iOS version is better than Android’s. For example, Evernote (my #1 app) is multiplatform, but iOS version always get the new features first, and some of them are still pending on Android (e.g. business card scanning). Bloomberg for iPad is better, also. And many kids apps, like NatGeo for Kids, are only available for iOS.

    Android is great in many ways, and I love it. But an operating system or ecosystem is not good for itself. It’s good for what it can do for the user. A great example is IBM OS/2. Technically, had everything to surpass Windows 3, but it was just useless.

    What many Android people do is to compare hardware specifications. This is not totally right. A Ferrari could be faster and powerful than a BMW or a Toyota, but even if you had the money, a Ferrari may not be the “best” car. You can’t go on holydays with your family in a Ferrari, can’t go shopping, is not confortable for everyday commuting to work. If a phone has 2, 4 or 10 cores does not matter if it does not positively influence user experience. What do matter is the overall user experience and the need it solves.

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