Android still dominates smartphones globally — but Apple is gaining ground

As Apple is set (AAPL) set to launch its iPhone 14 today, it's easy for me to think most people have iPhones. In the U.S., that's true, with recent research showing iPhones account for more than 50% of smartphones in the country. Worldwide, well, that's another story.

As of August, Android held 71.54% of mobile global market share, while Apple's iOS came in at 27.81%, according to web analytics service StatCounter data. Now, if you're looking at those numbers thinking "that's most phones," you'd be right. The next top competitor, Samsung, can claim only 0.42% of worldwide mobile OS market share.

For all the hullaballoo surrounding iPhones, Android is still the dominant mobile operating system across the world. And it's not even close. Still, there's evidence that Apple may ultimately achieve global dominance, including the fact that it's already the smartphone of choice in the world's two largest economies.

Android, which was developed in the early aughts in Silicon Valley, was acquired by Google (GOOG, GOOGL) in 2005 for $50 million. Today, Androids usually come with Google apps, like Chrome or Google Play, pre-installed and, worldwide, it's estimated that there are more than 2.5 billion Android users, according to Business of Apps.

For its part, the iPhone, introduced by the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in 2007, has dominated markets such as the U.S. and Japan by leveraging its sleek design and ease-of-use. In 2021, Apple announced there were over 1 billion active iPhone users, a milestone that had been a long time coming. The billionth iPhone had been sold in 2016.

Apple's still a force

There are plenty of reasons why Android's been so dominant globally to date, including the fact that Androids are often far less expensive than iPhones. Average iPhone selling price hit a record-high last year at $873 as demand for top-tier iPhones went up. Meanwhile, Statista estimates show the average price of an Android phone coming in at $261 a pop.

However, the scales may be set to tip in Apple's favor when it comes to gaining market share.

Despite Android's dominance worldwide, the trajectory long-term is in Apple's favor, per Andrew Boone, an analyst at Citizens-owned JMP Securities. Certainly, the extent to which the iPhone has taken the U.S. by storm bolsters this view. The iPhone counts for about half of all smartphone shipments in the U.S., according to data from Counterpoint Research.

Additionally, there's evidence that Apple has become the pre-eminent smartphone player in China. Though Huawei used to dominate China's smartphone market — the largest of its kind in the world — research published in January showed that Apple's been gaining ground, beating out more localized China-based competitors.

Apple's also held its own in China despite the pandemic, and shipped 9.9 million iPhones in China in Q2 2022. The company saw demand for iPhones in China slide amid COVID-19 lockdowns, but demand has ticked up again.

“We did see a lower demand based on the COVID lockdowns in the cities that the COVID lockdowns affected and we did see a rebound in those same cities toward the end of the quarter in the June timeframe,” Apple CEO Tim Cook told analysts in the company's July earnings call.

For now, Android is dominant globally, but that's not to say they don't have reason to be paranoid.

Allie Garfinkle is a Senior Tech Reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @agarfinks.

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