Apple believes their customers browse more, buy more, and are just plain worth more than Android's. And they're saying so now. A lot.
It's commonplace now for an Apple event keynote to include a slide or two pointing out Google's struggle to get tablet-optimized versions of Android apps, or charts highlighting iOS' higher web usage share than Android's. It makes sense. They're numbers that are hugely in Apple's favor, unlike the raw marketshare numbers that so often consume the popular narrative these days. During their Q1 2014 conference call, Apple took those numbers to another level. They hammered them more times, in more ways, than ever before. They made a constant, concerted, and conscientious effort to position themselves as first and foremost in the areas they believe should matter the most to investors, developers, and ultimately customers. And just as much effort to position Google's Android as a distant #2.
The biggest, boldest claim came near the beginning: iOS 7 is the most popular operating system in the world.
That one was a double-taker, because pretty much everyone is used to hearing that Android enjoys a massive marketshare lead over Apple. The metric, so often repeated, has led to questions about whether or not Apple can maintain developer loyalty, much less exclusivity. By changing the metric of comparison from generic platform vs. platform to specific version vs. version, Apple is hoping to change the conversation.
According to App Store numbers, 80% of iOS devices now run iOS 7. Apple compared that to "single-digit" adoption rates for the latest version of Android 4.4, KitKit. (Google Play numbers peg KitKat at 1.4% at the time of this writing). Although Apple didn't call it out, 4.1 Jelly Bean, released July 13, 2012, enjoys the largest share of Android adoption, 35.9%. The next highest is 2.3 Gingerbread, released December 6, 2010, at 21.2%.
Yes, given the very different platform models, it's absolutely an apples to oranges comparison, but it's a good one for Apple. Marketshare numbers are just as useless, given the lack of segmentation currently in place in the industry — Apple has 0% of the under $400 phone market but a huge share of the over $600 market.
The message here is that the sheer quantity of devices that make up the platform doesn't matter anywhere nearly as much as the value of the platform, be it consistency of install base, or engagement and even affluence of the customer base.
Usage numbers were once again front and center as well, with Chikita Insights quoted as saying the iPhone controlled 54% of U.S. smartphone web traffic and the iPad, 78% of tablet traffic. Apple, of course, pointed out that these usage numbers were far greater than the market share numbers, specifically calling how engaging and important that made them. They also singled out China specifically, saying 57% of mobile web browsing in China happened on iOS devices.
To show that where attention goes, money follows, Apple used IBM's numbers. iOS counted for 32.6% vs. Android's 14.8% in traffic — thats over 2x — and a 23% vs. 4.6% in sales — over 5x — on Christmas. Black Friday numbers skewed massively in Apple's favor as well.
The message here is Apple customers have more money and/or spend more money than Android customers, and merchants should want Apple customers to be their customers.
The carriers were given a reminder of that as well. Apple pointed out that, in the U.S., the iPhone accounted for a 41% share of subscribers during the quarter ending November, 2013. That's the value to carriers. Despite grumbles about the price of carrying the iPhone, it still drives customer adoption and sells lucrative service plans. Where average revenue per customer (ARPU) is the king metric, iPhone's value still far exceeds its cost.
For developers, this was further re-enforced with numbers. Big numbers. 6 billion cumulative downloads. $2 billion paid out to developers in the December quarter alone. $15 billion cumulative, half of which was generated in the last four quarters. That says it's not only massive, but still growing massively. Apple cited Business Insider Intelligence, saying iOS has a 5x advantage over Android when it comes to developer revenue per app download, a 4x advantage for in-app purchases (IAP), and a 2x advantage for paymium (paid + IAP). Citing Distmo, Apple said the iOS App Store had a 63% to 37% advantage over Google Play in global app review. To complete the shock and awe, download stats were shared for some exclusive launches and apps — in the millions.
Apple called it a "superior marketplace". In other words, if you target Apple customers, you'll make more money.
And that was only during the prepared statements.
The war of rhetoric didn't go Apple's way in 2013. The market didn't even go their way following the Q1 results. But this much is clear — Apple knows where they're strong, knows where their competition is weak, and they certainly seem more determined than ever to get their message out.
Whether or not we get a bigger iPhone 6 this year, or an updated Apple TV 4 this spring, or an iWatch this century, Apple is going to tell the story of Apple again — their verse, their history, and their core values.
And they're going to do it at the expense of Android.