This is a very important time of year in the mobile marketplace. Developer and technology conferences are in full swing for the spring and summer, meaning lots of exciting announcements about mobile operating systems, devices and other upcoming technologies. Because this industry is always in flux with rapidly changing technology and innovation, it can be hard to wrap your head around the big picture and make decisions about which OS’ and devices to develop for, test upon and support. Let’s take a brief look at what’s going on with the big two in mobile for this spring: Apple and Google.
Android News: No New Desserts?
Those in the tech industry have come to expect a new OS version for Android each year at the Google I/O conference in May, so over the last couple months rumors have been circling about the possible announcement of Key Lime Pie. Surprisingly, and much to my (and probably many developers’) chagrin, there was no mention of Key Lime Pie at Google I/O earlier this month. Could this mean that Google is finally taking some strides to tackle their OS fragmentation issue?
The Gingerbread OS is finally starting to lose its edge, though it is still ahead in the OS distribution with 38.5% of users. Also interesting is that it seems like Ice Cream Sandwich might have reached its peak at around 27.5% – a slight dip from last month after a slow and steady upward trend over the last couple months. May was the first month that Jelly Bean gained an edge over Ice Cream Sandwich with 28.4% of Android users running some version of 4.1 or 4.2. I was expecting Google to announce Key Lime Pie like everyone else, adding yet another OS version to the mix and further complicating Android’s OS distribution numbers. Their restraint in this release will allow more carriers and users to upgrade off of Gingerbread and Jelly Bean and catch up with the rate of innovation that Google continues to churn out.
Matters are a bit more complicated on the Android device front. Since there are a plethora of carriers and manufacturers that contribute to Android’s vast array of mobile device options, there isn’t really a go-to source of information about device sales and usage across the board. There are several different ways that snippets of the overall picture have been compiled, using data from Daily Active Users (DAUs) of Android apps, shares of Android ad impressions, user polls and more. By aggregating this data along with considerations of media coverage and hype surrounding certain devices, it is possible to get a pretty good (but not exact) idea of which devices are dominating the market. Below are four different lists from a variety of resources which unanimously show that the Samsung Galaxy SII and SIII are leading the pack – no surprises here. What was surprising to me is that the Google Nexus 4 only appears on one of these lists; with all the media hype surrounding this phone it seems a bit curious.
There is quite a list of Android tablets and smartphones that are set to release throughout the remainder of the year, including the Samsung Galaxy S4. I have started to regard the Galaxy S phone as the iPhone of the Androids – meaning that no matter what, we can expect that these phones will sell like hotcakes. Also set to release this year is the HTC M7, a new Motorola X and a variety of 10.1 inch tablets.
Apple Gears Up For WWDC 13 Starting June 10
With only 11 days left until Apple’s much anticipated World Wide Developer’s Conference, I am getting pretty excited to see what they have up their sleeve for this year. Most of the speculation is surrounding the supposed new look and feel of the iOS 7 user interface which is rumored to be sporting a completely new look. Instead of the glossy, bubbly icons and effects that we are used to on Apple mobile devices, iOS 7 is expected to go a more modern route, with flatter icons and a more minimalist feel overall. I don’t believe a new iPhone is on the list of releases for this spring, but perhaps an update to the iPad mini? My thought is that there will be continued focus on Siri, automobile integration, and further integration of social apps into the OS.
Apple users have diligently adopted iOS 6, with approximately 89.2% of devices running on a version of 6.X. Usually we expect iOS version releases to be accompanied by a new device from Apple, adding to the smooth transition away from older versions of the OS. It will be interesting to see what happens without a new iPhone to boost OS updates to version 7. Check out these distribution trends compiled by David Smith, creator of the popular Audiobooks apps for iPhone and iPad.
In the United States, Android and Apple are basically neck and neck in the battle to dominate the mobile market. On a global scale the picture is much different, with Android easily overshadowing Apple and their other mobile competitors. This article in Time did a great job of pulling together all the need-to-know statistics when comparing these two mobile technology companies in the US market and worldwide. I recommend checking it out!
Stay tuned throughout the month of June for more news and information about the mobile marketplace and WWDC 13! What are your predictions about new devices and OS functionality throughout this summer? Join the conversation in the comments!