Who’s winning the mobile platform war: Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android? In terms of sheer volume, Android phones outsell iOS phones globally, but historically iOS users have been considered more valuable by advertisers. That dynamic is now changing as Android makes fast inroads to take the top spot on both fronts.
With 80% market share, it’s no secret that Android is the dominant global smartphone operating system. Even in a traditional Apple iOS stronghold like the United States, a majority of subscribers (52.6%) used Android devices to access their apps in Q3 2015. Apple’s iOS runs a close second at 42.7%, while smaller players like Windows and BlackBerry account for less than 5% of U.S. market share, according to Nielsen.
Data from the Smaato platform in Q4 2015 showed that the Android platform captures the highest share of mobile advertising spend worldwide, contributing 54.9% of global ad spend while iOS accounts for just over 43%. An analysis of each region shows a similar pattern, with Android holding a comfortable lead over iOS in the Americas and a narrower lead in the EMEA and APAC regions.
Apple doesn’t hide the fact that iOS has a smaller global footprint than Android, but few could argue with the claim that iOS brings more valuable users with stronger spending patterns to the party. From a mobile advertising perspective, it’s true that ads on iOS devices have long commanded significantly higher eCPM for publishers than ads on devices running Android.
This chapter of iOS dominance in eCPM value may be coming to a close soon, however. Although iOS is still the eCPM leader today, data from Smaato’s platform show this gap closing, as Android’s eCPM grew at a much faster rate (51%) than iOS (14%) in 2015. It’s clear that Android is making giant strides in raising the value of its mobile users to app developers and publishers.
Closer analysis of this trend on the Smaato platform shows Android gaining eCPM ground on iOS quickly. Looking back to Q4 2014, iOS was the clear leader by delivering an eCPM 1.55 times higher than that of Android. In Q4 2015, we see that the gap has narrowed significantly – iOS delivered an eCPM just 1.17 times higher than Android.
Based on current growth trends, Smaato’s eCPM data show that Android eCPMs could pull even with those of iOS as early as Q4 2016. Should this continue, we will be hailing Android as the new eCPM leader before the close of 2016. At that point, the winner will be clear: Android – both in terms of number and value of users.
Clearly, this improvement in fortune is good news for Google, who purchased Android Inc. back in 2005, and it’s a boon to all the hardware manufacturers and app developers that target the Android platform. Such fierce competition is also good for Apple’s users in the long run, as it spurs innovation and keeps both platforms focused on the best interests of their mobile users.
If you enjoyed this post and would like more mobile insights, please download Smaato’s latest report. You may also want to check out this brief history of both mobile operating systems called , a video compiled by ColdFusion TV. Enjoy!
  Global Trends in Mobile AdvertsingiOS users more valuable than their Android counterparts, but the gap is closing