Insider Intelligence Charts: Global Market Share Mobile OS

I pulled some recent data from Statcounter to get a sense of what the most active platforms were in each region. Statcounter, like NetMarketShare, tracks over a billion websites globally. Therefore, the tracking and market share numbers represent those actually using their devices to access the web in some way, shape or form. Interestingly, I have caught wind of some data that highlights a larger number of consumers than I anticipated in key markets like China who use VPNs or proxies to access blocked sites from within their country. Many of these VPNs or proxies are based in the US or Europe which means there is a high likelihood that some country numbers are skewed because of these consumers who access via proxy. I’ll deep dive on this as I gather more data.

Let’s look at platform statistics for several key regions and tease out some observations.

Global OS Market Share


Looking at the global breakdown of operating systems, broken out by those actively accessing the web, several key things stand out. The first is the noticeable and undeniable trend that Android continues its steady climb. This will continue as billions of consumers get into the market with their first smartphones from price tiers lower than $200 and most likely running Android.

Despite Android’s rise, iOS market share remains relatively steady. For many, this should defy their beliefs about how “open” operating systems crush more closed systems. There is a raging debate around the topic of whether the smaller ecosystem always loses. We are in uncharted territory and history is unlikely a helpful guide. Every time I look at this data, Apple’s ability to maintain share re-enforces the staying power of a premium customer base.

Series 40, while having a smaller market share, also remains steady. This demonstrates Nokia’s ability to maintain brand and solutions in markets like India, Africa, Indonesia, and Brazil to name a few. Ultimately Series 40 will be replaced by Android in those markets. It’s just a matter of time.

Globally, there are around 1.4 to 1.5 billion smartphones in use. That number will be over 4 billion by the end of 2018.



This chart remains relatively unchanged from multiple sources besides Statcounter. In the US, it truly is a two horse market and each have relatively close market share. Statcounter tracks the iPhone as having over 50% share based on their tracking methodology. This also lines up with recent data from Chitika stating that, when usage is tracked, the iPhone remains the market share leader.

If Apple does release a larger screen iPhone, it will be interesting to look back at these charts and see if Apple has indeed widened the gap against Android in the US as many, including myself, believe will happen.

The US has over 190m smartphones as an install base.



Android is the dominant OS in China. This should not come as a surprise. However, Apple’s continued growth in market share lines up with many Insider posts on Apple’s device installed base in China. This remains an under appreciated story. I remain convinced the number of iPhones in China is larger than most other analyst firms’ estimate.

Related Posts on iPhone in China
How’s the iPhone Doing in China
Data on China: Apple’s Biggest iPhone Market

While Android will remain dominant, I’m not sure the vendor landscape is as clear as others. While Xiaomi is all the rage in China, it is unclear if their model is sustainable, particularly as they run into challenges scaling to meet demand. The hardware/OEM landscape in China is nowhere near settled. This is a key storyline to follow.

China has nearly 600m smartphones in active use in the region.


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India as a market could not be more different than China. These are two completely different regions who mass market customers think about technology differently and value very different things. Where in China consumers place a high price tag on status, and technology identified as status symbols, India places a priority on value for the money. This is why India will remain a challenge for Apple.

India has approximately 60-70m smartphones as an install base currently. While estimating total iPhone sales in India has been tough, I believe it to be in the 6-8m range. Likely toward the lower end of that number but certainly less than 10m as a total.



Why am I showing you Indonesia? Every so often, we will look at a market that doesn’t get a lot of attention. I could, and will, continue to show charts from Brazil, and other countries in SE Asia, but I thought looking at Indonesia would be interesting. Indonesia is a huge market and an important one to watch. It is also growing quickly overall as a market for smartphones.

As you see from the chart, Nokia’s handsets have had a good run in Indonesia. But the trend is toward Android — which is no surprise. One other point worth mentioning is BlackBerry handsets have a higher percentage of the install base than indicated in this chart. The reason they don’t show up higher is because many BlackBerry devices in the region are not used to access the web through a browser or apps. Instead, these devices are used more as secure communication platforms due to a high level of distrust of the government. Some percentage of consumers have two devices. They use the Blackberry for secure communication for business or other uses and the Android or Nokia device for other smart phone features/use cases.

This is a snapshot of the overall platform trends in several key markets. In future Insider posts, we will also break down the vendor market share in these markets as well.

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Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio

11 thoughts on “Insider Intelligence Charts: Global Market Share Mobile OS”

  1. Holy cow! What happened with Sony Ericsson in India? That’s crazy, out of the blue stuff.


    1. I think you’re looking at the bars for Series 40. Series 40 gained share at the expense of Symbian OS, presumably because both are Nokia. You can see the same happening in Indonesia.

  2. Although I like the analysis, I think you should try to use something more quantitative and sound to explain differences among countries. For example, rather then prioritization of status (which I would actually expect India to also have to some extent), there are economic numbers we can use. I previously plotted GDP per capita against Android usage in my blog (in Japanese, last figure). Considering GDP per capita of India is half of China, this could be sufficient to explain what we see without discussing social status stuff.スマートフォンの売り上げ:いろいろな数字/

    1. Although the data is a bit old, you can see that iOS does well in high GDP-per-capita countries, while Nokia does well in the less wealthy. Android does well in the higher middle income countries.

      1. India and Indonesia are quite similar in GDP per-capita, which explains the continued strength of Nokia and lack of iOS in both regions.

      2. Of course there are exceptions, of which I find Germany to be quite interesting. The have an unusually low percentage of iPhones despite being wealthy. I’ve always theorized that Germans enjoy technical challenges even for personal goods. iOS is too simple to use for them. They still prefer manual transmission automobiles for example.

        1. Yes GDP is a good one. I have those referenced but don’t generally use them since my analysis is more market/consumer driven than economically. I find it more helpful to study the sociology of a region and grasp consumer behavior more granularly through behavioral economics.

          To that point Germany’s consumers are very pragmatic, also a value for the money segment generally. There are always splinters of this group in every market but in this case it is a general element.

          1. I agree that sociology is important. The problem is that sociology is very “soft”.

            For example, being Japanese, I always thought that Japanese were obedient. However, in Geert Hofstede’s book “Culture and Organizations: Software of the Mind”, Japan doesn’t rank highly in obedience at all (we just pretend to be).

            Many people in Japan discuss our country based on the belief that we are obedient. Consequently, these people may have everything wrong. That is the problem with sociology, at least when it is not rigorously applied.

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