All is not well on planet Android, despite unit share dominance

“More than a billion Android devices were sold in 2014, according to the research firm Gartner. That’s about five times the number of Apple iOS devices sold, and about three times the number of Windows machines sold,” Farhad Manjoo reports for The New York Times. “In other words: About one of every two computers sold today is running Android.”

“Yet all is not well on planet Android,” Manjoo reports. “On the eve of Google IO, the company’s annual developer conference that starts Thursday, where Android will once again be a primary topic of discussion, there are cracks emerging in Google’s hold over the operating system. Google’s version of Android faces increasing competition from hungry rivals, including upstart smartphone makers in developing countries that are pushing their own heavily modified take of the software. There are also new threats from Apple, which has said that its recent record number of iPhone sales came, in part, thanks to people switching from Android.”

“Despite surging sales, profits in the Android smartphone business declined 44 percent in 2014, according to the independent analyst Chetan Sharma,” Manjoo reports. “Over the holidays last year, according to the research firm Strategy Analytics, Apple vacuumed up nearly 90 percent of the profits in the smartphone business.”

“Android has so far been an ad dud compared with Apple’s iOS, whose users tend to have more money and spend a lot more time using their phones (and are, thus, more valuable to advertisers),” Manjoo reports. “Because Google pays billions to Apple to make its search engine the default search provider for iOS devices, the company collects much more from ads placed on Apple devices than from ads on Android devices. A recent analysis by Goldman Sachs estimated that Google collected about $11.8 billion on mobile search ads in 2014, with about 75 percent coming from ads on iPhones and iPads.”

“The final threat for Google’s Android may be the most pernicious: What if a significant number of the people who adopted Android as their first smartphone move on to something else as they become power users? In Apple’s last two earnings calls, Timothy D. Cook, the chief executive, reported ‘a higher rate of switchers than we’ve experienced in previous iPhone cycles,'” Manjoo reports. “Apple has not specified the rate of switching, but a survey by Cowen & Company found that 16 percent of people who bought the latest iPhones previously owned Android devices; in China, that rate was 29 percent.

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: What’s happening here is simply that the chickens are coming home to roost. We explained/predicted all of this years ago:

Android is pushed to users who are, in general:

a) confused about why they should be choosing an iPhone over an inferior knockoff and therefore might be less prone to understand/explore their devices’ capabilities or trust their devices with credit card info for shopping; and/or
b) enticed with “Buy One Get One Free,” “Buy One, Get Two or More Free,” or similar offers.

Neither type of customer is the cream of the crop when it comes to successful engagement or coveted demographics; closer to the bottom of the barrel than the top, in fact. Android can be widespread and still demographically inferior precisely because of the way in which and to whom Android devices are marketed. Unending BOGO promos attract a seemingly unending stream of cheapskates just as inane, pointless TV commercials about robots or blasting holes in concrete walls attract meatheads and dullards, not exactly the best demographics unless you’re peddling muscle-building powders or grease monkey overalls.

Google made a crucial mistake: They gave away Android to “partners” who pushed and continue to push the product into the hands of the exact opposite type of user that Google needs for Android to truly thrive. Hence, Android is a backwater of second-rate, or worse, app versions that are only downloaded when free or ad-supported – but the Android user is notoriously cheap, so the ads don’t sell for much because they don’t work very well. You’d have guessed that Google would have understood this, but you’d have guessed wrong.

Google built a platform that depends heavily on advertising support, but sold it to the very type of customer who’s the least likely to patronize ads.

iOS users are the ones who buy apps, so developers focus on iOS users. iOS users buy products, so accessory makers focus on iOS users. iOS users have money and the proven will to spend it, so vehicle makers focus on iOS users. Etcetera. Android can have the “Hee Haw” demographic. Apple doesn’t want it or need it; it’s far more trouble than it’s worth.MacDailyNews, November 26, 2012

And furthermore:

“All men are created equal.”

Well, not when it comes to users of smartphones and tablets…

The bottom line: Those who settle for Android devices are not equal to iOS users. The fact is that iOS users are worth significantly more than Android settlers to developers, advertisers, third-party accessory makers (speakers, cases, chargers, cables, etc.), vehicle makers, musicians, TV show producers, movie producers, book authors, carriers, retailers, podcasters… The list goes on and on.

The quality of the customer matters. A lot.

Facile “analyses” that look only at market (unit) share, equating one Android settler to one iOS user, make a fatal error by incorrectly equating users of each platform one-to-one.

When it comes to mobile operating systems, all users are simply not equal.SteveJack, MacDailyNews, November 15, 2014

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Edward W.” for the heads up.]


Apple’s App Store widens revenue lead over Google Play – April 15, 2015
Apple’s iPhone and the minority majority – February 2, 2015
Apple iOS users spend vastly more money and time online than Android users – December 30, 2014
iPhone users earn significantly more than those who settle for Android phones – October 8, 2014
Yet more proof that Android is for poor people – June 27, 2014
More proof that Android is for poor people – May 13, 2014
Apple’s iOS dominates in richer countries, Android in poorer regions – March 25, 2014
Why Apple’s iPhone keeps raking in the majority of mobile phone profits – March 19, 2014
Apple dominates with 60% share of mobile phone profits – March 18, 2014
Android has the most unit share, but Apple dominates profit share, making more money than all Android smartphone makers combined – November 15, 2013
Android users poorer, shorter, unhealthier, less educated, far less charitable than Apple iPhone users – November 13, 2013
IDC data shows two thirds of Android’s 81% smartphone share are cheap junk phones – November 13, 2013
Android phones 3 times more likely than Apple iPhones to have been bought at discount store – August 22, 2013
CIRP: Apple iPhone users are younger, richer, and better educated than those who settle for Samsung knockoff phones – August 19, 2013
Twitter heat map shows iPhone use by the affluent, Android by the poor – June 20, 2013


  1. But, but, but . . . . the pundits and the ‘techie’ people and the blogs all say that Android is the best and er, uhm, stuff and you know. . . . it’s market share and thingy. . . . come on, everybody says so, right?

    1. A lot of tech people, are just haters. They know a lot, but just enough to get into trouble, more or less. What I am trying to say, they will see what is popular, or see what works, and will buck a solid path to go down another, touting it’s superiority. The harder it is, the better, because it makes them look smart, when in fact they are not being smart at all. It’s a sham, to project a techie image in the face of corporate obscurity.

      Smart, is when you sit back and ask, “What’s going to make my job 10 times easier?”

      The iPhone is just one of those things that takes the stupid out of tech.

  2. Android isn’t going away. Go into any retail space that is not an Apple Store (or and the salesperson will always attempt to sale you an Andriod device first (at least this is my experience).

    Samdung pays spiffs and carriers are terrified of iOS devices and yet in spite of all this, Apple rakes in the lion’s share of profit. How cool is that?

  3. Through my brilliant sleuthing, I can now reveal to the world that marketshare alone is worth little or nothing. Profitability is the thing! You may thank me now.

  4. a long article yet the writer doesn’t touch on the reasons ‘why’ those who can afford it go iOS.

    the writer doesn’t talk about:

    1) with Android you don’t get a perfect fit because OS and hardware are mostly made by different people (besides the Nexus) and because of this the phones are not optimized. even new high end phones are slower in real use than iPhones and buggy (fingerprint sensors that don’t work etc)

    Bugs which no one takes responsibility for (OEMS blame Google and vice versa)

    with mobile devices bugs are especially bothersome as you often don’t have the time (as you are ‘mobile’ ) to sit down and troubleshoot.

    2) the giant plague of Android malware and other problems like not being able to securely ‘wipe’ the phones (again due to no one taking responsibility) . Malware is a big issue (ignored by the Google loving press) especially with ‘forks’ in the system, no software updates from OEMs and numerous third party app stores. One Android bloggist I was following was laughing at the ‘malware paranoia ‘ until he did a ‘scan for fun’ and found malware on his own Android phone…

    3) because Android OEMs don’t make money they don’t do much real R&D (every significant breakthrough like Touch ID comes from Apple) or customer service (no updates, safeguards against malware etc)

    4) Android phones might be cheaper but they have no resale value while you can recover much of the cost of the iPhone if you sell it used to get a new one.

  5. I know quite a number of Android users who quite happy living in their sedated “Matrix” world of illusion. They think they’re safe. They think they have “power” (to change the GUI any way they want). Their only real problem is ignorance. They simply don’t know what they’re missing. Sometimes the differences are subtle. Sometimes they’re dramatic. But they are real and hopefully most will one day wake up to the reality that iPhone is the only place to be…

    1. Just like the millions of sedated Windows users who are quite happy living in their sedated “Matrix” world of illusion. They think they’re safe. They think they have “power.” Their only real problem is ignorance. They simply don’t know what they’re missing. Sometimes the differences are subtle. Sometimes they’re dramatic. But they are real and hopefully most will one day wake up to the reality that Mac is the only place to be…

  6. It’s simple. The natural progression for many people is basic phone>cheap ‘my first’ smartphone (Android or – for some poor sods – Windows Phone)>iPhone.

    They first need to see the value of a smartphone, then they appreciate the value of a really great smartphone. Android is a great set of training wheels for many.

  7. Met an old friend, and Apple-hater last weekend. Hadn’t seen him in a few years but he used to be outspoken about the superiority of Android (in his belief, for real estate).

    Towards the end of our conversation, his phone rang, and yep, he whipped out a new iPhone.

    I had to bite my tongue.

  8. Just saw an elderly relative’s Android phone that was apparently infested with adware. In the contacts app, every “blank” contact field (things like nicknames and addresses) were filled in by spammy online drug ads. He was confused about why all his contacts suddenly had weird names! I told him what it was, and he said he had to install some kind of Android antivirus last month to fix his phone. I told him about how iPhones don’t have these kinds of problems.

    It really freaks me out, that things filled with as much personal information as modern cell phones are so prone to spyware. Scumbags are surely stealing tons of personal information from these Android devices.

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