Do The Math: iOS 6 Is The World’s Most Popular Mobile Operating System

on June 24, 2013

In fact if you do the math, you would find that iOS 6 is the world’s most popular mobile operating system and in second place is a version of Android which was released in 2010. ~ Tim Cook, WWDC 2013 (1:13:55)

Okay, let’s do the math.

Total iOS Sales vs. Total Android Activations

We know that there are approximately 600 million iOS sales and 900 million Android activations.

Now all we need do is multiply the total sales/activations times the version percentages claimed by iOS and Android.


Source: Is iOS Fragmenting? Not Nearly as Much as Android.

“And by the way, this is the most ideal state of Android. It only includes a version of android which talk to the Google play store so it doesn’t include things like Kindles and Nooks. ((In addition to excluding Kindles and Nooks, Google’s statistics exclude the millions of Android devices in China and other regions that don’t use Google’s services. Google is inflating their total activation numbers by counting them all and inflating their Jelly Bean numbers by only counting units that contact the Google Play Store.))~ Tim Cook, WWDC (113:30)

The Math

558 Million (93.0% x 600) iOS 6 (Fall 2012)
329 Million (36.5% x 900) Android Gingerbread (Winter 2010)
297 Million (33.0% x 900) Android Jelly Bean (Summer 2012 and Winter 2012)
230 Million (25.6% x 900) Android Ice Cream Sandwich (Fall 2011)
043 Million (04.8% x 900) Android older than Gingerbread
036 Million (06.0% x 600) iOS 5 (Fall 2011)
006 Million (01.0% x 600) iOS older than iOS 5

Analysis & Commentary

[pullquote]iOS 6 is the world’s most popular mobile operating system[/pullquote]iOS 6

— Tim Cook was correct: iOS 6 is the world’s most popular mobile operating system.
— iOS 6 leads second place – Android Gingerbread – by ~229 million users.
— iOS 6 leads Android’s most recent version – Jelly Bean – by ~261 million users.

And if you look at the customer’s of each operating system that are using the latest version, it’s not even close. ~ Tim Cook, WWDC 2013 (1:13:40)

[pullquote]75% of Android users and only 7% of iOS users are on non-current versions of their respective operating systems[/pullquote]

— 75% of the Android ecosystem is on the non-current versions of the operating system.
— 7% of the iOS ecosystem is on non-current versions of the operating system.

Google reports that, as of June, the largest segment of Android devices are still running version 2.3 Gingerbread (36.5 percent), which was released in the Winter of 2010.

More than a third of android users are using an operating system that was released in 2010. ~ Tim Cook, WWDC (1:15:25)

Jelly Bean
Only 33 percent are running the latest major version, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, which was announced last summer alongside Apple’s debut of iOS 6.

Ice Cream Sandwich
Another 25.6 percent are still on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, which was released the same month as iOS 5.

Android older than Gingerbread
Another 4.8 percent of Android users use software older than Gingerbread.

iOS 5
Only 6 percent are still using last year’s iOS 5, the last version supported by the original 2010 iPad, 2009 iPod touch and 2008 iPhone 3G.

iOS older than iOS 5
Just 1 percent of Apple’s App Store visitors still use a version older than iOS 5, released in October 2011.

Do Versions Really Matter?

Android advocates claim that fragmentation isn’t really a problem. What nonsense. Ignoring the deleterious effects of fragmentation doesn’t even pass the smell test. ((Definition of “the smell test”: A cursory test of something’s authenticity or legitimacy ~ It stinks to high heaven, both of cognitive dissonance and hypocrisy.

— It’s terrible for users who don’t have the latest features and the latest security updates.

Now this isn’t just bad for users, but this version fragmentation is terrible for developers. ~ Tim Cook, WWDC 2013 (1:13:45)

— It’s terrible for developers who want to use the latest APIs – who want to take advantage of the newest tools, techniques and technology – but can’t because they have to support years old operating systems.

— It’s illogical. If being on the latest version of an operating system doesn’t matter, then why even do newer versions?

— It’s partisan. It violates’s Kirk’ first law of objectivity ((I feel fairly certain that this will come back to haunt me.)):

“Would you maintain the validity of your contention if the positions were reversed?”

Please. Arguing that operating system versions don’t matter is the same as arguing that reality doesn’t matter. Every piece of data available supports the hypothesis that iOS is the stronger platform, despite Android’s numerical superiority. That either means that activation numbers don’t matter as much to a platform as pundits contend they do, or that Android’s activation numbers need to be discounted.

Or both.


Definition: discounting, verb, Deduct an amount from (the usual value of something)

Even if you think that raw numbers are the essence of a strong platform – and you really shouldn’t – you have to agree that older versions of iOS and Android must be discounted ((Other discounts should be applied as well, such as engagement, usage, demographics, security, ease of access and use, etc.)) if we are to make a proper comparison of the two operating systems. The problem is that the discount rate is unknown. ((Or, at least it’s unknown to me.))

If, for example, you:
— Disregard the versions of iOS and Android that are older than 3 years; and
— Discount iOS 5 and Ice Cream Sandwich by 25%; and
— Discount Gingerbread by 50%; then

Your revised and re-calculated numbers would look like this:

558 Million (558 x 1.00) iOS 6
005 Million (006 x 0.75) iOS 5
563 Million iOS Total, After Discount

297 Million (297 x 1.00) Jelly Bean
173 Million (230 x 0.75) Ice Cream Sandwich
165 Million (329 x 0.50) Gingerbread
635 Million Android Total, After Discount

Of course, the problem is that I just made these discount numbers up out of my head. I showed my math so that you can change the discount numbers and do your own calculations. If anyone knows a way of obtaining a truer, more objective discount number, I would be grateful if they would share it with us in the comments, below.


iOS 6.1.2 is the Most Popular Version of iOS Less than One Week Following Launch

Why Android Updates Are So Slow

Google engineers: We’re trying to fix Android fragmentation

The Orphans of Android: “I believe there are a lot of Android devices from months and years gone by that are sitting in drawers at home or are being sold on eBay.”

Fragmented Android drives big dev to Apple: “(The (BBC) Trust found a series of quite logical reasons why Android lagged iOS when new features were added to iPlayer, mostly surrounding the “complexity and expense” of developing for Android.

The company also noted a couple of other logical reasons why developers dealing with limited time and budget would opt for Apple’s mobile OS:

— Engagement is higher on Apple devices
— Android is fragmented
— Android development is complex and expensive