Android to have as many users as Apple’s App Store

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Apple’s and Android’s race in smart device market

One of the heat topics these days are the results of smartphone shipments. Apple became the top-selling device manufacturer with its record-breaking 20.3 million device shipments during the second quarter of 2011, whereas Android owns 48% of market as a largest mobile operating system provider.

For most starting developers one of the key criteria in selection of a platform is the potential reach of an application, i.e. how many people own devices running the platform and how many users will actually be reached through a chosen app store?

Previously Apple was the unquestionable leader, with the largest app store user base. If we count only smartphone users Android is already far beyond, however Apple App Store user base is fueled by millions of iPod Touch users and a successful iPad spread. To date Apple has shipped over 240 million smart devices (iPhones, iPod Touch and iPads) leaving Android behind with 170 million cumulative device shipments. Given the device replacement cycles and other relevant factors, actual potential user bases today are lower but Apple still wins over Android.

Platform shares of total smartphone app user base

Our estimates show that Apple lost its significant dominance already at the end of 2010. At the dawn of smartphone apps market Apple‘s users made up to 74% of total smartphone user base, however it dropped to less than 40% in Q2 2011. Android is rapidly catching up. Within just under a year and a half Android leapt from 2% to 28% in mid-2011: today almost every third app store user owns an Android phone.

Android Market is closing the application user base gap

As we see the smartphone app market monopoly is continuously transforming into a duopoly. Both platforms together comprise nearly two thirds of all potential smartphone application users, leaving all other platforms as niche players.

Android will catch up to Apple

We think it won‘t take long for Android to catch up with Apple in terms of potential application store users. Another successful quarter for Android, and absolute reach will no longer be a deciding factor for developers, which platform to choose for an app. They will have to consider more qualitative user base differences and potentials, or develop for both platforms.

App developers and app publisher can get more insights in how to handle multi-platform app development, reduce time-to-market, serving the long-tail with white-label apps etc. with our new report Solutions for Developers and Publishers to Reduce Development Costs and Time to Market. The report is part of the comprehensive research The Market for Mobile Application Development Services (2010-2015)“.

Free Android Insight report: Download the free monthly report here – “Android Market Insights (July, 2011)

You think Android will never beat Apple? Please share your opinion.

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* The smartphone app user base (reach/installed base) is defined as number of smart devices in market with an on-deck (pre-installed or downloaded) application store.

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