There's so much hysterical coverage of the great Apple versus Android war it sure is easy to get confused by all the claims and counter-claims: is the iOS really six times more popular for Web browsing than Android, or is it really only twice as popular?

That's the trouble with statistics, they only give you a flavor of what's going on, a careless whisper, a reflection of a clue. What's really happening is that both platforms are growing incredibly fast - and that's a good thing.

From my Apple-holic point of view, I was taken by Net Applications when it released data last week which told us six times as many iOS users browse the Web, in comparison to Android folk.

That report challenges a second set of data from Quantcast, which found iOS devices to be used just twice as much as Google's OS.

[This story is from Computerworld's Apple Holic blog. Follow on Twitter or subscribe via RSS to make sure you don't miss a beat.]

Religious debate

I must admit I'm still reeling at how partisan discussions regarding the relative merits of Google's free-but-not-entirely Android and Apple's controlled-but-not-entirely iOS mobile operating systems have become.

The combatitive nature of these discussions truly reminds me of the dualistic Mac versus PC, Netscape versus IE, Blu-ray versus HD debates which have characterized the entire evolution of the technology industry.

In Apple's corner sits the usual passionate bunch of Apple-holics, while in the other sit the sometimes viper-tongued Phandroid fan club. That's the trouble with religious debate. It gets personal.

Google and Apple meanwhile have an adult business relationship. That's why Apple gives Google a million dollars a month. It does? Yes. It does.

Let us quickly take a look at the methodology of both surveys.

With statistics, presentation is everything

Quantcast measures mobile Web usage, it does not include iPad usage, but does include iPod touch data. Data comes from sites which have included specific Quantcast cookies. Typically these include some of the top Web destinations.

The Net Applications data combines iPad with iPod touch and iPhone 4 usage. The methodology relies on data collected from across its customer network, along with aggregated data from search engines.

While both surveys suggest slightly different things, Quantcast has neglected to deliver a figure detailing the size of the mobile web market in comparison to the wider market.

This means that when you look at the Quantcast data the manner in which it is seemingly presented suggests iOS marketshare is declining relative to Android. This doesn't seem to tally with Net Applications, which show that both platforms are growing, so is it a true reflection of the data?

I don't think it is.

What's actually happening is that the market for both platforms is growing, with Android slowly but surely achieving parity in terms of the number of devices in active use out there.

This makes it look like the also-growing iOS marketshare is declining, when in fact both are growing. It's just Android succesfully entering a market it wasn't in before.

Apple sells 6 million+ iOS devices each month

Apple has shifted over 120 million iOS devices so far, and seems set to add up to another 24 million or so to that number before the end of the year. Sales could be as high as 6 million devices each month, I estimate.

That estimate is my own conjecture based on the following:

With four months remaining until the end of 2010 -- including the Holiday season -- Apple could easily exceed that 20 million device estimate.

Apple itself has claimed it is activating 230,000 new iOS devices each day. That adds up to 1.6 million devices per week. This essentially confirms my six million per month sales estimate, and suggests the figure may be higher. This is explosive growth.

Net Applications data shows that iOS use has grown from 0.44 percent in October 2009 to 1.13 percent in August 2010.

Net Applications also reveals that online, iOS (1.13 percent) is now bigger than Linux (0.85 percent) -- a claim Android (0.17 percent) can't make.

This doesn't mean one platform is succeeding while another is failing. Both are growing.

Where was Android this time last year, when Apple's OS was around 0.4 percent of usage?

This ain't winner takes all

Apple or Android fans, it really is time to understand, this isn't some dualistic good versus evil fight to the death between Apple and Android in which there can only be one survivor. That's over-simplistic, stupid and, frankly, naive.

Think about it. We're dealing with a market which will eventually comprise billions of devices. The last thing we need is one over-dominant platform. Think of the security, anti-trust and monopoly implications of such an outcome.

Apple and Android devices will in future sit beside offerings from the likes of BlackBerry, Nokia, Palm and Microsoft as citizens of the future mobile Web, unless one of the contenders attempts to forge monopolistic control. We can't let that happen this time round.

What we need

  • We need a more evolved discussion than that one party is good while the other one is evil.
  • We need multiple platforms.
  • We need standards-based approaches.
  • We need apps, Web-based or otherwise.

Speaking of apps, the July Distimo Report (published Friday) into activity at App Stores for Apple, BlackBerry, Android, Nokia, Palm and Windows mobile devices shows that big developers are beginning to dominate app sales, with iPad apps contributing a nice slice of cream to the crop.

Taken straight from the press release:

  • The average price of the 100 most popular applications in Google Android Market and Palm App Catalog is higher than the average price of the entire catalogue of applications.
  • While the average price of all applications is only 16% higher in the Apple App Store for iPad than in the Apple App Store for iPhone, the average price of the 100 most popular applications is nearly three times as high in the Apple App Store for iPad.
  • Paid applications are priced lowest in Google Android Market, Nokia Ovi Store and Palm App Catalog.
  • The top three cross-store publishers that publish applications in multiple stores are Gameloft, Electronic Arts and Handmark, Inc.
  • The top grossing publisher in the Apple App Store for iPhone is Electronic Arts, which publishes free and paid applications as well as applications with in-app purchases.

Signing off, here's a funny video about Google:

Note: This blog first appeared on our sister site  Computerworld - read more at - Email Jonny at [email protected]