Market Insight

Android Rules The Smartphone Market...Who Cares?


It’s been recently reported that Android dominated the smartphone landscape in Q1 2011. While this is certainly a notable accomplishment considering its nascent existence just two years ago, it hides the all-important economics of the matter. While Android smartphones may very well charge to over 50% by this time next year, for handset makers and app stores, market share does not equal financial success.

The economics of handsets and app stores, like so many things, can be roughly summarized by a Pareto distribution: 80% of the profits go to 20% of the market, while the remaining 20% of profits go to the remaining 80% of the market. For example, recent IHS-Screen Digest research suggests that in 2011 Apple will garner 76% of global app store revenue with just more than 20% handset market share.

Android appears to be the run-away favorite to be the platform of the masses (the chances that Windows Phone will challenge Android are vanishingly thin) – and Apple appears comfortable with letting Android handset makers compete on hardware specs and promotional pricing while Apple focuses on the user experience and how to spend all those profits. To put this all in a DRAM context – this is a good thing for DRAM vendors. Let the Android handset makers stuff as much silicon in their devices as possible – it will only benefit the purveyors of silicon.

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