Android vs. iPhone and iPad by the numbers

How does Google's mobile operating system stack up against Apple's in the smartphone and tablet markets? We look at the data.

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Android phone mnfrs
Source: Calculations from data posted at Androphones.com

Latest stats from comScore show that Android became the U.S. smartphone market leader early this year, overtaking Research In Motion's BlackBerry. The iPhone was third. Google said in April that there are now more than 350,000 Android smartphones activated every day.

Bottom line: Google's Android has done an impressive job of surpassing Apple in the smartphone market, despite the iPhone's early lead.

Available apps

It's arguable whether any user needs access to 350,000 apps (iOS) -- or even 88,000 (Android). What's key is whether the most important, compelling apps are available on a platform.

Available apps (in thousands)

Source: Lookout Mobile Security

That's tough to measure, but the overall number of apps on a platform is a useful sign of how attractive it is for developers and how likely it is that new apps will be written for the platform.

Bottom line: Here, too, Apple has a major lead, but the Android market has become a significant player.

Conclusion overall

Apple has staked out a considerable lead in tablets -- a market with huge growth potential. Gartner forecasts media-tablet shipments will soar 17-fold: from 17 million units last year to 70 million this year and 294 million by 2015.

Even with Apple's share expected drop from 84% last year to 47% in 2015, that's an enormous new business for the company, with an estimated 138 million devices to ship in 2015. But Android may not be far behind at 39% and 113 million. Both iOS and Android are likely to be key players in "post-PC" mobile computing.

Worldwide smartphone shipments are expected to more than triple from 2010 to 2015, also according to Gartner. Android growth is forecast to jump from 67 million units shipped to 539 million as its market share more than doubles. Apple's global share will also rise but more modestly, from 47 million to 190 million units shipped and from 15.7% to 17.2%.

Here, Android looks like the clear winner -- although Apple may be helped by all those new iPad owners, some of whom may decide they want a phone with the same OS and apps as their tablet.

Mari Keefe gathered much of the data for this report.

Sharon Machlis is online managing editor at Computerworld. Her e-mail address is smachlis@computerworld.com. You can follow her on Twitter @sharon000, on Facebook or by subscribing to her RSS feeds:
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