200 million iOS devices: a look behind the figures

At yesterday’s developer conference Apple announced that iOS was now in 200 million devices. That’s good going, making their mobile operating system Apple’s greatest asset. However, before brands start assuming that ‘everyone has an iPhone’, it’s worth getting a bit more understanding of what these figures really mean:

  • Whilst 200 million iOSs puts Apple level pegging with the most successful mobile phone ever, the Nokia 1100, that was a single device. Apple’s figure is across the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
  • Apple tell us there are 25 million iPads out there. They have trounced the tablet market with no one coming close in terms of sales.
  • Although we don’t have up-to-date figures from Apple (they don’t publish separate iPod touch figures), there is plenty of financial analysis (and their lawsuit against Samsung) which indicates that it represents 1/3rd of their iOS users. That puts iPod Touch sales at around 60 million.
  • That leaves the iPhone with sales of 115 million over four years – that’s consistent with figures published earlier this year estimating phone sales at just over 110 million.
  • The iPhone is currently the best selling smartphone, however there are more hansets using Android than iOS.

115 million sales of a device over four years is great going, and in many markets the iPhone is the best-selling handset. However, these figures aren’t the complete picture.

For a start, that figure of 115 million represents total sales, not actually devices in use. How many people still use an iPhone 2g or 3g? We simply don’t know the actual numbers, but if we are looking at Apple phones in people’s pockets then the figure will be well below the total sales.
From a brand engagement perspective, it is important to understand where your customers are in the mobile landscape and what they are doing on their phones. Many marketers assume that most people have an iPhone, or at least the ones they want to be talking to.  However, when we look at the smartphone market share then the global split is 36% Android, 26% iPhone and 25% BlackBerry. In the UK the total handset market share is 15% Android, 10% BlackBerry and 9% iPhone. Nielsen also found that Android users access more data (and nearly as many apps) as their iPhone counterparts.

Whilst it’s true that iPod Touch and iPad are still iOS and offer opportunities for brands, the fact is that the device usage and demographics are different to the iPhone. iPod touches are popular amongst a younger audience (many of who have a BlackBerry for their phone), where the main activity is around listening to music, watching videos or playing games. Similarly with the iPad, it is much more than a big iPhone. Magazine reading, rich content and higher end gaming are more the order of the day.
There’s no question that the advent of the iPhone four years ago significantly shifted our ideas of what a mobile phone is (or can do). Apple lead in terms of profitability, but it’s important to look behind the figures and realise that there are many more handsets out there than just the iphone.

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