With apologies to Yogi Berra, I’ve come full circle on the Android vs. iPhone battle. It’s almost– almost— exactly like Windows vs. the Mac, a veritable déjà vu all over again.
The original battle was Microsoft’s Windows vs. Apple’s Mac. It was a strange battle because Windows is an operating system, and the Mac is a personal computer with an operating system. Still, people love competition, often root for the underdog, but even Apple’s Steve Jobs declared Microsoft to be the winner.
How so? Market share. And profits.
Microsoft made billions of dollars on Windows and Office, only to squander much of it on ill advised and paranoid actions to compete in search and music and game consoles. Microsoft has never made money in those ventures.
Meanwhile, Apple plodded along and reinvented the media player, music sales, the smart phone, and the tablet computer. What about the Mac? Sales continue to grow, the Mac is highly profitable, and while market share remains nominal, the brand is the most profitable in the world.
How does all that compare to Android vs. iPhone?
There are similarities and stark differences. Android OS will win the smart phone operating system battle against iPhone (iOS) and all comers, including Microsoft Windows Phone. It’s tough to compete against free and Android OS lives on most of the world’s smart phones, but particularly the ones with low or nearly no price tag.
Android’s typical customer is cheap and isn’t inclined to use an Android-based smart phone the same way as an iPhone user. Less web browsing, fewer apps, less data usage, fewer purchased apps, therefore, Google can’t cash in on search advertising because iOS remains the largest platform for Google’s chosen revenue stream.
Unlike Microsoft, which made billions milking the Windows cash cow, Google only loses money on Android devices. With a smaller unit market share, Apple’s iOS devices are the cash cow of mobile device profits (about 75-percent at recent count).
So, how is Android vs. iPhone just like Windows vs. the Mac?
Android won the unit market share war. iPhone lost. That’s just one war. Other wars include customer loyalty, revenue, profitability, robust ecosystem, and so on. In those wars, Android is an also ran. Apple has turned the tables on Google’s attempt to become the 21st century Microsoft. It’s Apple that makes the money.