The Orange View (on hiatus) Because Apple is great but it isn't perfect


More nonsense from the former mouth of Brooklyn

In an article about smart phone usage and market share, software developer Marco Arment obscures with mixed up stats to bolster his tired trope that Android users aren't as savvy and hip as iPhone users. Commenting on a Horace Dediu market share graph, Arment concludes:

What this shows is that while Android is indeed growing impressively, it doesn’t seem to be proportionally eating into the marketshare of other strong smartphone platforms. Rather, it’s taking over a dramatically increasing share of former non-smartphone customers.¹

Of course, you could reorder the graph slices to show something different, but this explanation reflects what I’ve seen anecdotally. More importantly, it explains some of Android’s real-world odditites, including why its unit marketshare isn’t even remotely proportional to its web-browsing share or paid-app sales: it’s selling a lot more to people who aren’t accustomed to doing much with their phones and don’t use them like pocket computers., September 20, 2011

The mobile browser stat he links to combines all iOS browsing -- iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad -- into one grand, dominating figure. That tells you exactly nothing about the relative market share in smart phone browsing. Turns out Android is well ahead of the iPhone in smartphone browsing share and its lead has increased every month this year.

The stats on paid app sales revenue remain heavily in the iPhone's favor -- but that's all about differences in paid versus free and ad-supported apps on the two platforms, not how people are using their smartphones. Apple has the advantage of a better pay mechanism and a pile of hundreds of millions of iTunes account holders' credit card numbers while Google has the better advertising network.

Away from the paid/free dichotomy, the number of apps downloaded and the frequency of app usage are quite similar on both platforms. And Android users download more data per month than iPhone users. Despite what a few Android owners may be doing anecdotally in some corners of Brooklyn Westchester, in the rest of the world they're doing what every other smartphone owner is doing: browsing the web, checking email, updating Facebook and playing Angry Birds.

¹I'll leave it to this footnote to note that another of Arment's assertions -- that Android's growth has come at the expense of dumb phones, not other smartphone brands -- applies equally to the iPhone's growth and therefore doesn't prove anything about the difference between iPhone and Android users.

Posted by Aaron Pressman

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