There is no mistaking that Android is the global mobile operating system. With 71.72% market share worldwide, it seems that iOS will never overtake Google’s OS. However, if you look at certain markets (particularly the US and Japan), iOS dominates.
What’s the matter?
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Well, Android’s global dominance is made possible by countries like India that have a massive population that cannot afford more expensive iOS devices.
Because Android devices can be made and sold cheaply, such populations really have no choice but to stick with Google’s mobile OS.
But why is iOS dominating countries like Japan and the United States? Given the numbers, one would think that the desktop operating system would play a big role in this. However, MacOS only has a 14.66% market share worldwide and only a 26.92% market share in the US.
Obviously, using a desktop operating system does not dictate using a mobile operating system.
So what gives? Why can’t Android gain more traction in richer countries?
I have a few ideas on this topic that I’d like to share.
Let’s go for a walk.
It starts with the ecosystem
One thing Apple does best is its ecosystem. Of course, Google wants you to think it has the best ecosystem on the planet when it comes to tight Android integration with Google Workspace. But that’s not the ecosystem I’m talking about.
Everyone has a cloud version, so Google can’t really challenge the claim that Android is special because of Google Drive, Photos, Docs, Gmail, and more.
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The ecosystem I’m referring to is more about the interconnectedness of devices. When you use an iOS device, it integrates seamlessly with your MacOS devices and your WatchOS devices. That integration is much more important than Google thinks.
Consider this. it’s just that syncing an Android device to a desktop is not only more complicated than the average user wants to bother with, but the integration is minimal at best. And as for Android phone and watch integration… you better have an app on your phone or it won’t happen.
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Here is an example. Before buying a Pixel Watch:, I had a Samsung smartwatch. To get any level of integration with my phone, I had to install two different apps: Samsung Health and Galaxy Wearable. With those apps installed, I could track fitness, take phone calls, receive notifications, and more. Without those apps? Nothing.
The same goes for the Pixel Watch. To get a similar level of integration, I had to install the Fitbit app. Even then, the integration wasn’t nearly what you’d find between an iPhone and an Apple Watch. What’s even more annoying is that my Pixel Watch is paired with a Pixel phone. You’d think the integration would build…but no.
To get any kind of integration with my desktop, I have to jump through hoops to install third-party software. And just because Linux is my OS of choice doesn’t matter. It’s the same whether you’re using Windows or MacOS.
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Android just isn’t built to integrate well with desktop operating systems and can barely integrate with wearables without installing more apps. Even integrating an Android phone with a Chromebook is awkward at best. Google should fix this with the following solutions.
- Create an official desktop application that easily installs on all operating systems.
- Make Pixel Watch and phone integration built-in and complete.
- Bake with support for other popular wearables (such as Samsung watches) on Android.
- Ensure Android tablets integrate seamlessly with Android phones and wearables.
- Improve integration with IoT devices.
It’s a considerable to-do list, but also one that should have been taken care of a long, long time ago. Because of these variations, Android is far behind iOS in terms of ecosystems.
Innovate better and faster
Here’s the thing Pixel 7: The phone is brilliant, but it took seven iterations to get there. Google’s first Pixel device was supposed to be more like the seventh. Unfortunately, Google doesn’t seem to understand that consumers in wealthier countries like the US and (especially Japan) see big, bold and fast innovation as the key to success. Where Apple is making incredible strides and many obvious innovations, Google’s biggest strides are under the hood.
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Take for example Pixel 6 Pro:. That device introduced the Tensor chip. While it was an important step forward, do you really think the average consumer was interested in such a thing? On the other side of the coin, Apple presents AirTags: and consumers are going crazy.
Google is introducing a new and improved camera with the Pixel 7 that takes incredible photos, but it can’t seem to capture Apple’s appeal thanks to the number of filmmakers creating with iPhones. That, my friends, speaks volumes. The trust iPhones get from famous filmmakers creating on Apple devices not only makes consumers believe they can do the same, but it’s also a brilliant marketing strategy.
Another innovation that Apple will likely use to defeat Google is the foldable device. Personally, I see little value in a device with a screen that will likely bend over time, but consumers want this kind of innovation. And it looks like Google is about to announce the Pixel Fold, and Apple is rumored to be heading in the same direction.
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You can bet Apple will win this race to the finish. And given its track record with hardware, the iPhone Flip (or whatever it’s called) is likely to outperform the Pixel Fold. And remember, Google isn’t great for first timers. The first Pixel phone wasn’t nearly what it should have been. And while the Pixel Watch is a pretty decent first release, it’s still light years behind the Apple Watch.
I will finish with this. Few companies on the planet are better at marketing than Apple. And few global companies are as bad at marketing as Google. If you have any doubts about this, check out the latest iPhone ad and compare it to the latest Pixel Phone ad. One of those ads has great consumer appeal, while the other falls flat on its face.
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Google is just not good at this game. The only time Google had a proper Pixel Phone ad was for the Pixel 2. Suddenly Google looked cool. It didn’t last long. At the same time, every iPhone commercial looks like it was created by a brilliant, creative Hollywood director with a huge budget.
If Android is ever going to catch up to the iPhone in richer markets, it needs to up its marketing game to be on par with Apple. I don’t foresee that happening anytime soon.