Once upon a time, mobile phones were there primarily to satisfy our need to stay in touch with one another. However, technology has made it possible for these unobtrusive-looking gadgets to transform not just the way we communicate but also the way we live. Indeed, how can one possibly live without our phones? From budgeting our grocery shopping lists, organizing our day and week schedules, to inputting complicated data sheets and even automating your home, mobile phones have made it possible for us to make our lives easier by just a few clicks of a button.
What makes mobile phones so interesting is that it’s almost like you’re using a mini computer and a phone at the same time. And just like computers, mobile phones also have an operating system that combines the power of a personal computer with other great features like touchscreen, navigation, video, music player, Bluetooth, and even speech recognition.
These operating systems in the world of “smart” phones are called mobile platforms. Think of it this way: the two most popular operating systems used in laptops or desktop computers are Windows and Mac OSX, but in the smartphone universe, the two most dominant players are Apple and Android, with other mobile platforms like Rim’s Blackberry, Windows Phone and others trailing behind.
Here are some of the most popular mobile platforms today:
iOS, which is derived from Mac OS X, is Apple’s mobile platform. This includes the popular iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and the second-generation Apple TV.
- Apple has an edge on technological innovation, so many look up to them when it comes to branding and product inspiration.
- It has a great and refined modern look, with a reliable hardware that does its job very well.
- Great for the average consumer market, since its versatility and extremely user-friendly system can allow anyone to use it without going through a rigorous (or even daunting) learning curve.
- It contains a huge number of applications in the app store.
- iTunes offers a well-integrated system for devices, services, and developers to interact and coordinate with each other.
- Due to its popularity, iOS is likely to survive any industry merging.
- Only average in capability when it comes to content creation and professional productivity.
- Licensing is highly restrictive. Apple has complete control over which applications should be included.
- Apple’s control also extends to what software tools developers are allowed to write their code in.
Android is free and open source, and its releases are nicknamed after desserts or sweets, like Cupcake (1.5), Donut (1.6), Eclair (2.0), Frozen Yogurt (“Froyo”) (2.2), Gingerbread (2.3), Honeycomb (3.0), Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0), Jelly Bean (4.1), (4.2), (4.3) and Kit Kat (4.4).
- Most mobile service providers use Android devices, giving consumers more choices.
- Since it’s open source, Android platforms allow more competition between hardware vendors. This drives down costs, making devices more affordable for consumers.
- Unlike Apple, licensing terms are normal, which means that developers can install their software on any gadget they want.
- It has the biggest share in the smartphone market.
- Like Apple, Android devices carry a large number of applications in the app store.
- Due to its popularity, Android may also likely survive any industry merging.
- Security should be given a lot of priority. Google often incorporates user behaviour data and package it for other businesses. Often, this business model is incorporated in Android’s system, so sensitive data should be protected from Google servers.
- Since Android can run on multiple target devices ranging from tablets to phones, there is a possibility that version fragmentation may occur. Creating multiple versions will require more time and effort for developers.
Windows Mobile (Microsoft)
Windows phone fully integrates all Microsoft services such as OneDrive, Bing, Xbox Video, Xbox Music, Xbox Live games, and other non-Microsoft services like Google and Facebook accounts.
- Windows 8 powerfully integrates with Windows domain, Office, and Microsoft’s cloud and Intranet systems, making it ideal for business-oriented applications and even advanced content creation and arrangement.
- Windows Pro can be ideal for those who like touch-screen features and the versatility of traditional PC functions. Basically, it’s like having your PC in the form of a mobile phone and more.
- Since Microsoft is a giant on its own, it’s highly likely that they will have the necessary financial means to support and develop their mobile ecosystem. This means that this platform will more likely continue to thrive in the next couple of years.
- It ranks low in market share, despite the strong backing of Microsoft and Nokia.
- Blackberry is another great platform for corporate messaging services and business users. Its email feature is the best compared to other mobile platforms.
- There are very few apps offered.
- Declining user base.
- It may not be able to keep up with competitors, particularly Google and Apple.
Symbian has declined considerably since its primary OEM supporter, Nokia has changed its mobile platform to Windows. Many Japanese vendors have also converted to Android. Despite this continuing decline, many believe that it will continue to be used, although in drastically lower numbers.
Comparison of Mobile Platforms
Not all mobile platforms are created equal, and how they are utilized is also different, depending on the target market. Here are some interesting comparisons on how they are used, created, and bought:
According to iAcquire, men prefer Blackberry and Android operating systems, while women prefer iPhone:
Age groups also have their own preferences, with Android users distributed quite evenly among all groups. However, it can be noted that younger groups are more inclined to choose iPhones, and the older groups prefer Blackberry.
Countries, Regions, The World
Independent study reports that when it comes to mobile platform market share in the UK, Android platforms take the lead, garnering a 50% share in 2013 compared to Apple’s 30%:
When it comes to mobile platforms that sell the most smartphones, Android phones take in a large chunk of the market: around 50 percent compared to Apple’s 30 percent. It should be noted that Microsoft had a significant increase in 2013, from 3 percent market share to 5 percent. According to UKOM, this is an 87 percent growth, which is highly significant when compared to Blackberry and Symbian’s decrease in the UK mobile platform market.
According to Kantar, when it comes to mobile platforms that sell the most smartphones in the US, Android phones take in a large chunk of the U.S. market, garnering 50 percent compared to Apple’s iOS’ 43 percent.
Android is still the most popular mobile platform in the top five European markets (EU5 – France, Italy, Germany, Spain, UK) with Google’s Android commanding almost 70 percent of the European smartphone market in 2013. Meanwhile, Apple took in almost 20 percent, with Windows Phone trailing at 10 percent.
Global Web Index reports indicate that Android is still the leader, with South Korea (81%), China (75%) and Malaysia (75%) showing the largest increase in Android usage. The most popular Android version in the world is Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, with Gingerbread (2.3.3 – 2.3.7) coming in second place.
The countries with greater than average market share of iOS users are: US (42%), Australia (40%) and Canada (37%).
Google dominates the number of app downloads in the mobile market, with 50 percent more downloads in Google Play compared to Apple. Additionally, Google Play enjoys 75 percent downloads compared to App Store’s paltry 18 percent.
While this figure shows an obvious lead by Google’s Android, Apple still generates more profits for developers compared to Google. In fact, it made twice as much money as Google Play in 2013, earning $10 billion just from app downloads alone. Apple’s iOS is still the best cash-generating platform for developers. It has the highest median revenue individual apps, earning around $500-$1,000 per month:
Revenue for Advertising
According to Opera’s Software Report, Apple is also the winner when it comes to revenue per advertising impression to content publishers, delivering an eCPM (total revenue a publisher earns per thousand ads served in his or her content) of $2.49 compared to $2.10 per thousand impressions on Android devices.
While iOS ads are more expensive, they are also more revenue generating. The average click-through rate (CTR) on iOS devices (as of March 2013) ranges from 2.5 percent on the iPad to 1.7 percent on the iPhone, while the average CTR on Android devices was noticeably lower at 1.1 percent on Android phones and 1.0 percent tablets.
Take note that Microsoft Windows has the highest number of revenue per download of all mobile phones, but the low number of downloads have made less revenues from developers compared to iOS and Android developers.
|Number of apps per developer||5||5||3|
|Number of downloads per app||60 000||40 000||4 060|
|Revenue per download||$ 0.01875||$ 0.1||$ 0.1538|
According to Opera, iOS takes 44% of traffic and 49% of Opera’s entire network ad revenues, while Android has 31 percent traffic and 29 percent of cumulative network revenue.
Mobile platforms are constantly evolving, and whatever drives these platforms and how they will look, work, and operate will surely be driven by consumers’ preferences and market trends. The truth is, we can only hope that they become better in time. Whatever these changes are, everyone agrees that they’re something we should all look forward to in the coming years ahead.