Today almost every third app store user owns an Android phone. Within just under a year and a half Android leapt from 2% to 28% in mid-2011. In 2008 Apple‘s users made up 74% of the total smartphone app store user base, however it dropped to less than 40% in Q2 2011.
As we can see, the smartphone app market monopoly is continuously transforming into a duopoly. Both platforms together comprise nearly two thirds of all potential smartphone application users, leaving all other platforms as niche players.
It won‘t take long for Android to catch up with Apple in terms of potential application store users. Another successful quarter for Android and both will be up to par. Developers who have to choose between the two platforms will make their decisions on more than just pure reach. They will consider more qualitative user base differences and potentials, or develop for both platforms.
For most starting developers, one of the key criteria in selection of a platform is the potential reach of an application, i.e. how many people own devices running the platform and how many users they would actually reach through a chosen app store?
Previously Apple was the unquestionable leader, with the largest app store user base. If we count only smartphone users, Android is already far beyond: however the Apple App Store user base is fueled by millions of iPod Touch users and a successful iPad spread. To date, Apple has shipped over 240 million smart devices (iPhones, iPod Touch and iPads) leaving Android behind with 170 million cumulative device shipments. Given the device replacement cycles and other relevant factors, actual potential user bases today are lower but Apple still wins over Android.