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Monday, February 23, 2015

Android vs Apple smartphones: A closer look

iPhones vs other smartphones

In Q4, 2014 Apple iPhone's shipped amounted to 74.5 million per CNET, but over the entire year over a billion Android mobile operating system smartphones were shipped. By comparison, Androids are the big winner, yet a closer look at the details reveals some interesting information. Specifically,  Android sales may be losing their upward trajectory for the following reasons:

  • Variances in operating system functionality
  • Increased iPhone competitive positioning
  • Market share increase for Windows smartphones

Since 2007, Apple Inc. has sold over 590 million iPhones worldwide. Moreover, since it has upgraded its smartphone technology model 6 times, the potential for iPhone replacements increases its potential for continued growth in sales as consumer replace their old phones for new ones. Apple clearly has the potential and capacity to reach a wider audience going forward whereas Android phones face a greater challenge from competitors and achieving growth from a higher and consequently more difficult market position.

iPhone success

According to Apple, its mobile phone success is due to continual investment into research and development, and marketing and advertising. To illustrate further,  in its fiscal quarter ending March 31, 2012, Apple spent $841 million or two percent of net quarterly sales on research and development. By 2014 this number increased substantially with $1.6 billion in R&D spending in its Q3 alone. An effective distribution network with a knowledgeable sales force also plays a key role in the phones revenue generation per Apple. Additional  reasons for the success of the Apple iPhone is customer conversion of brand equity from other popular Apple products such as the iPod, iMac and iPad to the iPhone.


Competition in the mobile phone market is strong despite the decline of several competing products. For example, HTC previously acknowledged the challenge posed to it by the iPhone per Apple Insider. Competition also comes from Samsung and LG. However, the iPhone's high cost works against Apple according to CNET. More recently, different versions and costs of the iPhone 6 have addressed this issue. However, since smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy sells at a discount, retailers are able to recover costs more quickly than with iPhones. Samsung also outspent Apple in research and development as in 2011 the amount it spent on this was $2.16 billion on an average quarterly basis.


In terms of mobile phone operating systems, Google has proven to be a powerful competitor via its Android software. Android has a 57.6 percent mobile phone operating system market share per Gadget OZ. A wealth of free Android apps also illustrate its ability to contend with iOS. If the Android operating system outpaces Apple's development, there is a risk the iPhone's functionality could be challenged. Other mobile operating systems include the Windows Mobile, Symbian and Research In Motion's Blackberry OS.


The Apple iPhone is the company's biggest revenue generating product. Product sales of 64.47 percent  between Jan. 1 – March 31, 2012 were attributable to iPhones per the company’s 10-Q. Keeping up with such high revenue growth is challenging for the tech firm. One possible way to increase future revenue growth would be for Apple to develop a second or even third iPhone for distribution in continental Africa or to less well targeted demographic groups. Furthermore, as Apple  states in its quarterly report, continued research and development into both phone design and software development are essential to maintaining the iPhone's appeal and  functionality.

Image: 1. Smartmo; CC BY-SA 3.; 2. Smartmo; CC BY-SA 3.0