Apple Strikes Back in Mobile Web Battle with Android

App builders and developers got expected news when Apple’s release of the iPhone 5, iPad Mini, and 4th generation iPod Touch resulted in an increase in traffic and market share. Apple’s never-ending battle with Android for market share has all of the twists and turns of a world-class roller coaster, and the numbers have fluctuated the last few months, both in English speaking countries like Australia, and in Asia.

A recent survey by Chitika, an advertising and research firm, showed a rise of 5.96% for Apple in combined mobile web traffic in Canada and the US. Chitika’s survey came from traffic that it monitors daily on its advertising network, and constitutes a fairly large and somewhat accurate sample of mobile traffic in the US and Canada.

While US and Canadian statistics aren’t totally in line with world statistics, they do represent the largest combined English-speaking market in the world, and their statistics are usually similar to those here in Australia.

The stats: Apple checked in with a 65.38% market share in October, continuing its dominance of the US and Canadian markets.  Apple had lost market share in September, due to the Nexus 7 and new Galaxy phones and tablets, but rebounded nicely. Research in Motion, whose Blackberry has become almost non-existent, rose 1.29% to 1.51% because of browsing their Blackberry PlayBook tablets. That leaves 33.11% of the US and Canadian market for Android manufacturers.
Samsung, who makes the Galaxy line, has the largest share of all Android manufacturers with 11.86%, down from 14.28% in September.

In the report, Chitika makes some interesting predictions for the next two months. Because of the Nexus 4, 7, and 10, they expect Google to fight for a sizable percentage of the market share by the end of 2012. They also see RIM keeping their Blackberry line alive with more new devices, but Chitika doesn’t project RIM to do much more than hold on to their current market share.

They also predict that Chinese companies ZTE and Huawei will continue to grow, and that their market shares will see an increase in 2013.

So, what does that mean to us and who is “winning” here? At this point, it’s pretty much business as usual if you are an Android app developer or builder, or an iOS app developer or builder. Apple is still dominating the US, while Android is still dominating Asia. Ultimately, though, when there is competition among two major brands, we all win. App developers win because there is a thriving market, and consumers win because there is competition.

For commercial app developers and builders, it means that the market is still great for both Apple iOS and Android apps. While Apple looks like a better bet, reviewers of the Nexus 7 usually mention a “shortage of Android apps” in their “cons” section of the review. While the market is too volatile for sweeping generalisations, it does appear that apps that work better on tablets might be a better fit for iOS, and those that work well for phones might be a better fit for Android.

That being said, both companies make plenty of tablets and smartphones. Ultimately, if an app is successful on one platform, it probably will be successful on another. We recommend that commercial app developers try their app on one platform, and then develop one for the other platform as soon as it is successful.

To a small business, it means that you should have both an Apple iOS and an Android app to reach as many customers as you can. If you can only do one and you want to figure out which is the most effective, you might want to ask your customers what kind of devices they have and how often they use them.

Ultimately, we can only predict one thing for sure: more and more people will use mobile devices to shop and find information. In the coming years, the businesses that make it the easiest for customers to do business with them are going to be the ones who capture the largest share of the market.

Businesses that have apps are going to be seen as leaders, and the first companies to have apps are going to have the first opportunity to create lifelong customers. While an app isn’t a “magic bullet” that will compensate for other shortcomings, it will soon become a “must have” for businesses who want to be successful.

For right now, apps will open doors to more businesses. As apps become more popular, the lack of an app will close doors to those who depend on smartphones and tablets for information.

Contact us today, and let’s get started on your first app.

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