Market Share vs. Usage Share

By Norman Chan

What's a "real" smartphone owner anyway?

There's a lot of talk today about the 2013 smartphone landscape and Android's momentum. Given that we assume it's a "tick" year for iOS--meaning that Apple's next iPhone will be an incremental 'S' update for the iPhone 5, like the iPhone 3GS and 4S were for the 3G/4, Android smartphone makers are pushing high-end models paired with aggressive marketing campaigns to snatch away users who want a 1080p display or larger-than-4-inch phone. The Galaxy SIV announcement coming later this week is sure to fuel that effort.

The fact that Android encompasses a wide spectrum of handsets (and many size, feature, and price points) relative to iOS contributes to its larger market share, but iOS proponents argue that it's the usage data that matters. iPhone owners watch more video than Android smartphone owners. They use more web services. Business Insider even goes as far to say that "Android owners aren't real smartphone owners" (emphasis mine). Hyperbolic as that may sound, it's the notion that when the average person buys an iPhone, they make use of its capabilities moreso than a typical person who owns a comparable Android phone. I don't know whether that discrepancy is accurate, but if it's true, it shouldn't be dismissed. Android owners may currently "use" their phones less than iPhone owners, but that is something that can easily change, especially as Android gets better and better. It's easier for Android to have a large market share and gradually grow its usage share than for iOS to grow its market share in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.