Since Apple launched the App Store in July 2008 the growth in apps has been staggering, with 40 billion app downloads from a library of over 800,000 apps by 2013. The Android Market (now called Google Play) launched in September 2008 and now has over 700,00 apps.
Part of this massive growth has been in the area of mobile health apps. There are approximately 27,000 unique health apps available for consumers and healthcare professionals with about 500 new mobile health apps launching every month. Of these, more than 7,000 are specifically intended for use by HCPs1.
Smartphone shipment numbers for Q1 2013 have now been published, and this two part article will look at the changing smartphone landscape and consider whether an “iOS-first” strategy is still the correct one for app developers whether they work in Pharma or not.
The smartphone landscape
Google’s Android platform and Apple’s iOS together accounted for 92% of global smartphone shipments in Q4 last year, according to figures from analyst Strategy Analytics2.
“The worldwide smartphone industry has effectively become a duopoly as consumer demand has polarized around mass-market Android models and premium Apple designs,” added Scott Bicheno, Senior Analyst at Strategy Analytics.
This trend continued in Q1 2013 with global smartphone shipments increasing to 216 million units3. Samsung soared to a record high, while Apple growth slowed to 6.6% year-over-year giving it a 17.3% share of the smartphone market. Kantar reported that Android had a 64.2% global share in the 12 weeks ending March 314.
Faced with figures like that a casual observer might be led to believe that it would be prudent to develop apps for Android first, and iOS second, if at all. This is not what is happening - witness the fact that the new Twitter Music app is currently iOS only, and Vine is still only available on iOS. For smaller companies there may not be enough developers to build for iOS and Android simultaneously, but for others such as Twitter, the iOS-first decision is obviously a strategic one. This piece considers a few of the reasons that may be behind decisions like that.
US vs global stats
In the US Android’s lead over iOS is much smaller with Android holding 49.3% and iOS 43.7% during Q1 20135. Also, perhaps surprisingly, iOS is currently gaining on Android in the U.S, with a report published by the Yankee Group even predicting that iPhone ownership in the US will exceed Android ownership by 2015 because of platform loyalty6. This is possibly a stretch, but as the smartphone market matures maybe users are more familiar with what they can do with a smartphone and trade up from basic Android devices to higher end Android phones and iPhones.
The fact that Apple device owners tend to do more mobile web browsing has been widely known for some time, and was shown clearly in the data from IBM on the US Black Friday shopping traffic7. Black Friday is the day following Thanksgiving Day and is the the busiest shopping day of the year in the United States. One commonly accepted explanation of the name is that it indicates when retailers begin to turn a profit, or are ‘in the black’. IBM reported that 77% of mobile traffic on Black Friday came from iOS devices which was way above the iOS marketshare at the time. Part of the reason is the iPad which, like the iPhone, exhibits usage patterns beyond its actual marketshare. Gartner said the iPad contributed 88% of the tablet traffic over the Black Friday weekend despite having 50% of the tablet marketshare.
There is obviously a lot more to web usage than shopping, but earlier this year NetMarketShare published general browsing data showing iOS devices with 65% of mobile traffic compared to just 20% for Android8.
Still to come
The second part of this article looks at app usage, app revenue, and how smartphones are used. Read it here.