Android may now be bigger than iOS in terms of mobile subscribers in the U.S. But in so far as app developers are concerned, iPads and iPods are still handing Apple’s platform the lead in terms of unique users.
We periodically look at active usage of Facebook’s various smartphone clients to get some insight into market sizing on top of the statistics that Nielsen, Comscore and companies themselves like Apple and Google publicly report. Not every smartphone user downloads or actively uses Facebook. Nor does the social network have perfect geographic reach as it’s banned or still growing rapidly in some regions of the world.
But Facebook is one of the most broadly accessed smartphone apps in the world and so it provides a window into how many smartphone users are willing to download apps on each platform. The company most recently said it had more than 250 million monthly active users on mobile devices in March.
So let’s take a look:
iOS-Android Gap is Narrowing Rapidly
Regarding the iOS-Android horserace, Apple’s platforms is still ahead of Google’s but by a narrower margin than when we looked at it six months ago. Facebook for iPhone has just under 86 million monthly active users to Android’s 54.2 million. Six months ago, it was 63 million Facebook for iPhone monthly active users to 25.3 million Android ones. The Android client is adding 1.8 million more monthly active users a week while iOS is growing at a rate of 1 million per week. The Android app is also stickier with a bigger DAU/MAU ratio (or the fraction of monthly actives that access the app every day).
The difference between these figures and what Nielsen is reporting probably has to do with the addition of iPod Touch and iPad users. Even as Comscore has said in the past that Android has more U.S. mobile subscribers than iOS does, it also reported in April that iOS had a 59 percent larger reach in the U.S. than Android did because of these extra devices.
Regarding both companies’ official numbers, Apple said two weeks ago that it has cumulatively sold 222 million iOS devices. Google said it had seen 135 million Android device activations during its earnings call the week before.
Blackberry Still Growing, But At A Slower Pace
Blackberry is still the third largest smartphone client for Facebook with 39.3 million monthly active users. Like the Android client, it is also stickier than the iPhone app with a higher DAU/MAU ratio. But Blackberry’s growth pace is slower than the other two with 700,000 new monthly actives coming on every week.
RIM’s precipitous fall from being the leader in smartphone market was underscored last week when the company said it would lay off 2,000 people and anticipated that sales may drop for the first time in nine years this quarter.
Mango May Be Coming, But Windows Phone is Far, Far Behind
Microsoft said last week that it released the Mango software update for its Windows Phone OS last week to manufacturers. But even while the platform is growing, it’s falling further and further behind Android and iOS. The app has 728,000 monthly active users and is adding just under 15,000 per week.
Based on Gartner’s estimate that Microsoft sold 1.6 million Windows Phone 7 handsets in the first quarter of this year, analyst Horace Dediu at Asymco says there is roughly 1 Windows Phone 7 handset activated for every 28 Android phones. These figures would suggest an even more exaggerated ratio when it comes to app downloads.