On what platforms should an app run to capture the biggest market? It’s one of the most frequently asked questions our clients ask. The answer depends on three factors: project budget, target customer profiles, and market demographics. Most clients have quick answers for the first two factors but must rely on external resources to understand the market demographics. There are many resources available — some free, some paid, some better than others — that offer snapshots of the mobile market. This post is a compilation of the free market data resources that have been most helpful to Little Green Software clients.
The first observation is that the demographics change quickly — this is a highly competitive and innovative market in which new products are introduced every quarter. The total market is growing rapidly, and the landscape of choices available to customers often varies significantly every few months.
My general recommendation to clients who want to reach the biggest market on a tight budget is to consider a mobile web app. Mobile web apps have many of the same capabilities as native apps, but since they run in the smartphone’s web browser they are compatible across a wide range of devices.
Another recommendation is to look beyond smartphones. The very popular iPod Touch, the iPad, and the new Android tablet devices are not smartphones, so they are excluded from surveys of the phone market. However, these devices are capable of running the same apps as the phones, and unless you need phone-specific specific features, it is smart and cost-effective to build a native app compatible with the entire family of devices, not just the smartphone. Add the demographic data from these devices to get a more accurate picture of the total market.
A few summary observations on iPhone and Android:
- iPhone owners are age-diverse. As of mid-2009, about 1/3 were 25-34, another 1/3 were 35-54, and the remaining 1/3 were equally divided between <25 and >55.
- As of Q1 2010, 23% of mobile phone customers in the US had a smartphone, up from 16% in Q2 2009. As of Q1 2010, Android’s share of the smartphone market was 9% while the iPhone share was 28%. Both Android and the iPhone skew Male (about 55/45). iPhone customers users tend to be somewhat older, wealthier and better educated than Android customers.
- By the end of Q2 2010 the percent with smartphones had grown to 25% (from 23% in Q1). Nielsen projects that smartphones will overtake feature phones by the end of 2011. By the end of Q2, iPhone’s share of the smartphone market was still 28%, while Android’s share grew to 13%. So Android was definitely attracting new subscribers at a faster rate than iPhone. This will probably continue until the Verizon iPhone service becomes available.
- iPhone holds a strong lead in device preference. Among current iPhone customers, 89% would want a new iPhone device versus 6% who would want a new Android device. Among Android users, 71% would want a new Android device, while 21% would prefer an iPhone. These are probably the people who gave up on waiting for iPhone on Verizon.
Compilation of free demographic reports:
- AdMob: May 2010 Mobile Metrics Report
- Nielsen: iPhone Users Watch More Video… and are Older than You Think
- Nielsen: iPhone vs. Android
- Nielsen: Android Soars, but iPhone Still Most Desired as Smartphones Grab 25% of U.S. Mobile Market
- Advertising Age: Boomers — Yes, Boomers — Spend the Most on Tech
- iPhone Small Business Discussion Group: iPhone iOS Version Distribution
- Worldwide Smartphone Market Grows 89.5% Year Over Year in Third Quarter 2010 As New Devices Launch, Says IDC
- U.S. Smartphone Battle Heats Up: Which is the “Most Desired” Operating System?
- MobileBeat overview of ChangeWave survey: Apple iOS vs. Android consumer battle heats up (and BlackBerry gets crushed)
- Do You Live In An Android State Or An iPhone State?
- IDC Confirms Apple’s Smartphone Crown as Smartphone Shipments Exceed 100 Million.
- Android And Apple Now Command Nearly 70 Percent Of U.S. Smartphone Market Share
- comScore Reports September 2011 U.S. Mobile Subscriber Market Share
- Samsung confirmed as smartphone chief as growth continues, says IDC
- Pew Internet: Smartphone Adoption and Usage
- iOS and Android App Downloads Expected to Hit 25 Billion in 2011
Many thanks to Bob Jolls from GPTrex, who provided several of the links and much of the analysis in this compilation.