Will 2013 be the Year of Peak Android

Posted on January 8, 2013

Peak Android

Could 2013 be the year that Android peaks? Depending upon where you are the answer to that may be yes, but it maybe no.

In the US, Android marketshare at the end of September 2012 was at 52.5%, up from 51.6% in June. In contrast, Apple’s market share was at 34.3% which is substantially behind that of Google’s platform. To some observers, it would be obvious that Android has won the platform wars, that it will be the leading platform going forward.

But when we look at marketshare growth rates, that is the rate at which phones are being sold, the picture changes dramatically. Android has a 0.9% growth rate compared with 1.9% for Apple. In addition, this quarter is traditionally slower for the iPhone because a new version is expected to be released in the October timeframe.

In more recently released statistics, Kantar World Panel suggests that US market share during a 12 week period puts Apple at 53% and Android at 42%. That’s a change of 17% and -11% respectively.

So in the US, Apple is growing its marketshare much more rapidly than Google, hence we would expect to see their 52.5% of the market begin to reduce quite dramatically over the next few quarters.

In addition, America’s forth largest carrier, T-mobile, will begin selling the iPhone in 2013, reducing Android volume through this carrier.

Another factor that could influence marketshare growth is the chosen platform for people who are upgrading their phone. In the US, phone contracts are on a two year cycle, and many people who opted for Android when it was the only choice on Sprint or Verizon will now be able to get an iPhone on their preferred carrier. Moreover statistics (not presently at hand) have shown that Android owners are more likely to upgrade to an iPhone than iPhone users to an Android.

All these trends combined, it looks like Android’s marketshare is likely to begin to decline in 2013 in the US with the iPhone continuing to increase its share. In other words, we’ve reached Peak Android.

Global Trends

Yet trends across the globe in 2013 are unlikely to be different for Android. According to IDC, Android has 75% global market share in smartphones. Apple has but 14.9%

This is a huge lead in non-US markets and it is unlikely to be assailed any time soon. Yet one can ask the same question: has Android peaked? According to another IDC forecast, they expect iOS growth rates from 2012 to 2016 to be higher than those of Android.

It’s difficult to predict what will happen in 2013 globally. Potentially Android will continue to gain marketshare, but at sometime that must peak and reduce. When that peak will come is hard to determine.

One a final note, according to Horace Dediu at asymco.com:

The US is the crucible of the phone market in many ways so what happens in the US may be a harbinger for what happens world-wide.

This would suggest peak Android in the global context will arrive soon.