Why Android is stealing share from iOS

In the mobile context, Android opens up a world of choice that's just not available to iOS users

Hardly a week goes by without some fresh evidence of Android's growing success.

The latest example comes from research firm Quantcast, which on Friday released data showing that Google's mobile operating system stole significant market share from every other contender in August, especially Apple's iOS.

By the end of that month, Android had risen to account for 25 percent mobile Web consumption, whereas Apple's iOS had fallen to 56 percent. Research in Motion's BlackBerry OS was down to 9 percent.

The real story, of course, is in the trend lines. To get to its present spot, Android rose 2 percent in share over the course of the month, 5.5 percent over the quarter, and a full 18.6 percent over the past year. For iOS it was quite the reverse, taking the operating system down 0.3 percent in share over the month, 3.1 percent in the quarter, and a whopping 11.4 percent over the year.

In other words, Apple's loss is Android's gain. Much as iPhone fans might argue the reverse, it's also no real surprise. In fact, there are three key reasons Android is stealing iOS's thunder.

1. Choice

Choice is good; it means you can get whatever is best for your business and your users. In the mobile context, Android opens up a world of choice that's just not available to iOS users.

* In hardware: There's only one iPhone, and it's available from one vendor: Apple. That's not much of a selection from a company that encourages consumers to "think different." With Android, however, the fact that the platform is mostly open means that the door is wide open on hardware possibilities, including variations in processor, display and other form factor features. Who likes to be forced into one option? One-size-fits-all rarely fits anyone well.

* In the carrier: Even more significant, in my opinion, is the fact that Android users are not restricted to a single carrier. Even if Verizon gets added as an alternative to AT&T for the iPhone, a choice between two still can't compete with the many options available to Android users. Every major cellular carrier offers at least one Android device, so there's a good one for everyone and every business.

* In the apps: As in virtually every other aspect of its overall strategy, Apple keeps tight control over the apps that can be sold in its App Market, which means that users can buy only what Apple wants them to buy. The rapidly growing Android Market, on the other hand, offers whatever developers choose to make--which is likely a much better representation of what users want to buy, at least if the capitalist model is anything to go by. As an extra benefit, most of those apps are also free.

* In the content: Like it or not, Flash is part of as much as 80 percent of the content available on the Web. That's a non-issue for Android users, but those using iOS are not allowed to see such content. What happens when your employees need to view a Flash site from their phone? If it were me, I'd want them to be able to see it without having to jailbreak their device.

* In the experience: With all the many custom ROMs and widgets available for Android, users can make the interface and experience whatever they want it to be. Apple's iOS? Not so much. You get what Apple wants you to get.

2. Multitasking

If anyone needs to be able to multitask on their phone, it's the business user. Android allows multitasking just fine, but iOS? Not so fine--rather, even in iOS 4, it's a bit horrible. As businesses increasingly open their doors to various non-BlackBerry devices, it's no wonder Android smartphones are the more attractive choice.

3. Security

Because Apple keeps its proverbial cards so close to its chest, it is far more vulnerable to security breaches, as several notable examples have shown. Android, however, enjoys many of the security advantages of the Linux platform it's built on, owing primarily to the way privileges are assigned.

Its openness also makes security vulnerabilities more likely to be found quickly, and its involvement of the user as an intelligent participant in the process--rather than merely a consumer of the Disney-like "walled garden" experience Apple tries to present--means that fewer problems are likely to slip by. Particularly in a business context, I'd much rather keep control of security in my own hands than leave it up to Apple--or anyone else.

Follow Katherine Noyes on Twitter: @Noyesk.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags AppletelecommunicationapplicationsGoogleGoogle AndroidsoftwareMobile operating systemsmobile

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Katherine Noyes

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?