The internet does an amazing job of bringing all sorts of people together around a common cause, but unfortunately, it’s just as good at deepening rifts between various groups. There are fierce fights raging online, with some of the main events being cat vs. dog owners, PC vs. console gamers, and of course iPhone vs. Android users. In this post we’ll focus on the mobile clash, and even though there seems to be no truce in sight, the best we can do is to try and understand where they’re coming from.
Let’s compile and compare the combatants who constitute a huge segment of the market, regardless of which side of the battle they’re on. Bear with us today to get a better grip of who it is exactly holding the phone on which your digital product will be installed, ensuring its development process is guided by a solid knowledge of the target audience.
In the free-for-all world of building mobile apps, two giants reign supreme, making rules others have to adhere to: iOS and Android. Each platform boasts a distinct ecosystem, capturing the minds of users worldwide. If you're a startup founder setting sail in the app development sea, it's crucial to understand the differences between these systems and the unique user bases they cater to. Let's go ahead and put their contrasts and convergences under a lens.
Understanding iPhone users
Keep in mind that the kind of data that follows, and this applies to both groups being examined here, isn’t extremely precise – that is to say that every iPhone owner, for example, won’t have every single trait listed below. This isn’t a rigid mold, where you either fully fit in, or don’t fit at all. These user characteristics stay fluid, may vary from country to country, and change over time. They’re still useful, of course, but in rather broad terms.
Let’s start by sketching a portrait of an iOS user:
iPhone users typically span a youthful to middle-aged demographic, being the most popular among people aged 16-34. They exhibit a slightly higher tendency towards females, often residing in urban areas. These users boast above-average incomes and education levels, aligning with politically liberal viewpoints and a strong environmental consciousness.
Apple's compelling brand loyalty is evident, as users eagerly embrace new models upon release. The willingness to pay a premium for Apple's products is a testament to the perception of quality, innovation, and reliability. Design, aesthetics, and seamless integration across devices, software, and services hold immense value. This loyalty extends beyond iPhones to include a range of Apple products such as Macs, iPads, Apple Watches, and AirPods, enriching the overall experience.
User experience and satisfaction
User satisfaction with iPhones and other Apple products is underscored by the intuitive, responsive, and user-friendly iOS interface. Security, privacy, and performance are highly appreciated aspects. Standout features like camera quality, battery life, and vibrant displays elevate media consumption. Siri, Face ID, and Apple Pay add convenience and personalization, enhancing daily lives.
iPhone users find themselves immersed in the Apple ecosystem, where devices, software, and services converge harmoniously. iCloud syncs data, while iTunes and Apple Music house media. AirPlay and Apple TV+ offer smooth content streaming. iMessage, FaceTime, and Safari facilitate communication and browsing. Productivity flourishes through Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, while Continuity features like Handoff, Universal Clipboard, and AirDrop ensure a fluid experience.
Brand loyalty among iPhone users is exceptional, with a staggering 90% sticking with Apple. This allegiance stems from an emotional attachment rooted in Apple's reputation for innovation, quality, and prestige. The Apple culture and community resonate, characterized by creativity, progressiveness, and exclusivity. The Cupertino Titan's marketing prowess fuels anticipation and excitement, amplified by word-of-mouth recommendations from fellow users.
Understanding Android users
Now, for a profile of an Android user, we have:
Android users are primarily male (54%), with 36% of them being 25–34 years of age, while 30% falling between 16–24 years old. They reside mainly in developing countries or rural areas, and exhibit lower income and education levels compared to iOS users. A tendency towards political conservatism and less environmental consciousness sets them apart.
Differing from iOS users, Android users showcase lower platform loyalty, often switching to alternative brands and operating systems. Their preference leans away from premium pricing, attributing reliability, security, and prestige to iOS devices. The allure of diversity, customizability, and an open ecosystem sets Android apart. While Google's other products (like phones, tablets or laptops) don't resonate as strongly with Android users, they enjoy the variety of choices they have.
Empowered by Android's flexibility, its users appreciate a multitude of customization avenues. Personalization reigns as they alter wallpapers, dabble with widgets, and experiment with launchers, icons, and sounds. Android 12's Material You feature generates dynamic color schemes, allowing users to match their devices to their moods and preferences.
The Android realm boasts a diverse, fragmented device ecosystem, housing thousands of distinct devices from numerous manufacturers. With varying screen sizes, resolutions, hardware specs, and unique designs like foldable or gaming phones, Android users have numerous options to choose from that align with their needs, preferences, and budgets.
Android users enjoy the benefits of the open-source Android OS. This fosters innovation, competition, and collaboration, creating a thriving ecosystem brimming with apps, services, and features. The open-source foundation affords users unparalleled control, enabling custom ROMs, rooted devices, sideloaded apps, and third-party stores.
Android vs iOS market share
Globally, Android takes an unquestionable lead, holding an impressive 70.89% of the market, making it the most popular mobile operating system on the planet. In stark contrast, iOS claims a 28.36% share, hanging back by a notable 42.53%. This tug of war in Android vs. iPhone market share encapsulates a market dynamic that continues to shape the mobile landscape.
Why is Android more popular globally, while iOS dominates the US
The sheer dominance of Android market share is a testament to its open-source foundation. Encompassing various smartphone manufacturers, this ecosystem thrives on adaptability and diversity. The platform's global share underscores its pervasive influence, making it the go-to choice for a vast array of users seeking flexibility and choice.
In terms of sheer numbers, Android's journey to market supremacy is undeniable. With a growth rate of over 67% from 2009 to the present day, its global hegemony remains unswayed. In 2023, it maintained a staggering 70.27% yearly market share, showcasing its resilience and enduring appeal.
While (mostly) Google's operating system commands the global stage, iOS exerts its authority in select regions. The US, with its 57.39% quarterly market share for iOS, exemplifies the strength of Apple's system. This dominance finds its roots in Apple's strategic positioning as a premium brand and its unwavering commitment to crafting exceptional user experiences.
Furthermore, the yearly market share of iOS in the US stands at 58.34%, serving as proof of Apple's consistent reign. Despite Android's global prevalence, the allure of iOS continues to resonate, bolstered by Apple's knack for capturing the hearts of American users.
iPhone vs Android differences in hardware and software
When discussing the mobile market, we need to remember that hardware and software are closely connected and in a symbiotic relation. Importantly, the type of hardware that supports each of the operating systems will greatly affect who the actual user is, as people tend to primarily select the device and not the sysop it’s running.
Apple keeps tight control over its tech, so nothing aside from iPhones and Apple Watches, when speaking of mobile devices, supports iOS. This internal brand compatibility and reliability is objectively a significant advantage.
Android, on the other hand, is more widely available and can be found on products by manufacturers such as Google, Samsung, LG, Motorola, and many more. The issue here is that the quality of the devices using the system can vary significantly and so can the UX. However, Android allows for greater customization, which many users do enjoy.
Both platforms have digital stores, with Google Play offering a wider selection of apps, while Apple Store boasting tighter regulations, supposedly translating to higher quality of the available software, which is also what perhaps leads to greater revenue generated by the latter.
Differences in purchasing behavior and app pricing models preferred by iPhone vs Android users
Purchasing behavior differences
iPhone: Higher propensity for in-app purchases.
Android: Generally more conservative with in-app spending.
iPhone: More willing to pay for apps upfront.
Android: Prefer free apps with optional in-app purchases.
iPhone: More likely to subscribe to premium services.
Android: Tend to opt for one-time payment features.
Frequency of purchases
iPhone: Make purchases more frequently.
Android: Less frequent but larger one-time purchases.
App pricing models preferences
iPhone: Higher conversion from free to premium users.
Android: Lower conversion rates but higher user base.
iPhone: More acceptance for paid apps.
Android: Resistance to paid apps; prefer ad-supported models.
iPhone: More likely to engage in long-term subscriptions.
Android: Prefer short-term subscriptions or one-time payments.
iPhone: Less tolerance for ad-supported apps.
Android: More accepting of ads in exchange for free usage.
Leading monetization methods for highest ranking apps per platform
In February 2022, a distinct pattern emerged in the monetization strategies of top-ranking apps on the Apple App Store. The data reveals compelling insights into how developers are capitalizing on different revenue models across various app categories.
Free and freemium dominance
The lion's share of leading apps that appear on the Apple App Store's results page are either free or adopt a freemium model.
- Finance apps: Approximately 88% of all top-ranking finance apps are free, while around 11.5% leverage a freemium model.
- Social media apps: About 83% of the highest-grossing social media apps utilize a freemium model, and over 17% are entirely free.
Although less prevalent, paid downloads still hold a niche in the market.
- Gaming apps: Around 2.4% of the highest-ranking gaming apps are paid.
- Health and fitness apps: About 1.51% of top-ranking health and fitness apps require a one-time payment.
As of February 2022, the Google Play Store showcased a clear trend in the monetization approaches adopted by top-ranking apps. This data offers valuable insights for developers considering various revenue models across multiple app categories.
Predominance of free and freemium models
The majority of apps that surface on the Google Play Store's results page are either free or operate on a freemium model.
- Finance apps: An estimated 89% of all leading finance apps are free, while approximately 11.2% employ a freemium model.
- Social media apps: Roughly 82% of the highest-grossing social media apps have adopted a freemium model, and around 17% are completely free.
Niche for paid downloads
While less common, paid downloads have not been entirely eclipsed.
- Gaming apps: About 5.3% of the top-ranking gaming apps are paid.
- Health and fitness apps: Approximately 1.5% of leading health and fitness apps are paid.
How to choose a platform for your mobile app
When you get into the weeds of the iPhone vs. Android market share, you can see that the former has the potential to generate more revenue for businesses and developers, while the latter is clearly more popular worldwide, with its reach giving a big promise of success
Mobile app development is pretty stringent, in that you have to fit into the specifications of one of the two major platforms – iOS and Android – but how do you decide which way to go?
The importance of cross-platform mobile app development
Marrying the best of both worlds presents itself as the solution to the dilemma. Cross-platform development combines the allure of iOS revenue potential with Android's global popularity, creating a synergy that transcends platform limitations.
Crafting separate apps for iOS and Android can strain budgets. Cross-platform development, however, facilitates the process, allowing developers to share a single codebase across platforms, saving time, effort, and resources.
In a world where user preferences diverge, reaching both iOS enthusiasts and Android aficionados is essential. Cross-platform development ensures that your app caters to a broader audience, maximizing your user base.
Consistent user experience
Cross-platform frameworks like React Native and Flutter strive for uniformity across platforms. This consistency enhances user satisfaction, reinforcing their trust and loyalty.
Faster updates and maintenance
With a single codebase, updates and bug fixes can be rolled out simultaneously across platforms, minimizing disparities and ensuring a smoother experience for all users.
Reduced time to market
The centralized development process of cross-platform apps accelerates achieving faster time to market, allowing you to seize opportunities and establish your presence swiftly.
If you’d like to read a more in-depth analysis, head over to our React Native vs. Native guide for startups.
iOS and Android comparison table
Let’s put iPhone users vs. Android users in the handy table below, providing a snapshot of their preferences, behaviors, and spending patterns. In the era of smartphone dominance, understanding the distinct traits of these two user bases will shed light on the dynamics that shape the mobile market. From age to app usage trends, this concise comparison paints a revealing portrait of the choices and habits that set these two groups apart.
Which mobile platform should you develop for?
Venturing into the realm of applications seems to be an indispensable step for any startup looking to be successful. A forecast for 2024 shows there’s going to be over 7 billion smartphones in the world, so a mobile app appears to be a great way to always, quite literally, stay in your customer’s pocket. But who are your customers and what devices are they using?
Your target market will most likely fit into one or two broad categories. But it may also happen that it won’t be a case of Android vs. iPhone users, as your product goes beyond the socio-economic profile of either of these two, in which case cross-platform mobile app development may be the way forward for you.
This approach holds a number of advantages, as it allows you to capture diverse markets, engage users seamlessly, and ensure your app thrives in a competitive landscape.
At RST, we’re committed to helping up-and-coming businesses build outstanding products. That’s why we’re open for a digital product workshop – a consultation session designed to help you figure out if you perhaps should target both Android and iOS users with your app, among other things, as well as offer MVP development services aimed at delivering a digital product and supporting its iterative growth.
We’re ready when you are. Contact us, and we’ll discuss ways to conquer both platforms with an app that awes.