The long running battle of Mac vs. Windows seems to have become a faded memory; mostly as Windows fades from significance. Taking it’s place, though, is the 21st century battle of Android vs. iPhone. Same battle, different results. Here’s what keeps Apple on top.
Apple’s iPhone leap frogged the smartphone industry back when it was launched back in 2007. It took a few years for Google’s Android to catch up, even though Apple was not exactly standing still.
Both platforms– Apple’s iOS for iPhone and iPad, and Android OS for smartphones and tablets– are competitive feature-laden mobile platforms, and we can argue which one is best until the cows come home and not solve much, thanks to the human genetic makeup which allows for different strokes for different folks.
Unlike Mac vs. Windows, where the Mac’s marketshare fell to low single digits while Microsoft was hounded by the feds for being an illegal monopolist, iOS vs. Android is a similar fight with a different result.
With Windows dominant marketshare, Microsoft made and still makes tens of billions of dollars a year. Apple makes tens of billions of dollars a year by selling continually upgraded iPhones and iPads, each with iOS. Unlike Microsoft, Google does not make much money through the Android venture, despite the massive marketshare Android enjoys.
What’s the problem? Fragmentation. In fact, fragmentation among various versions of Android OS and hundreds of manufacturers has only cemented Apple’s position as the premium brand; iPhone and iPad are the standards, while all others that use Android are merely inexpensive knock-offs.
The fragmentation of Android as a platform actually pales to fragmentation among hardware manufacturers. While Apple is able to upgrade nearly 90-percent of all iOS device users to the latest version, Android can be upgraded only to a select few hardware models; Google’s own Nexus line, and a few Samsung models. All the rest of the Android community are left to suffer with Android OS versions which cannot or will not be upgraded with new features or security fixes.
Recent estimates show that a billion Android device users are at risk over security holes that neither device maker nor Google will fix. Meanwhile, Apple continues to move inexorably ahead, providing comfort, security, and new features, even to devices that are three-to-four years old. Android as a platform suffers from more than just OS fragmentation; hardware is fragmented as well. Samsung’s demise as a premium brand has only enhanced Apple’s position as the go to manufacturer for quality, dependability, stability, and security; all facets of the purchase criteria which are cherished by customers no longer content for cheap, plastic, knock-offs. Most of those who start using modern smartphones go with Android because of the price, but often move to iPhone as they become more affluent and more knowledgable about benefits of premium brand ownership.
Apple’s focus on user experience, interoperability, security, and ease-of-use make the company’s devices stand out over the less expensive, more fragmented Android experience. Customers are willing to pay for that differentiation.