Apple Dominates in US, Android Rules Globally

According to the latest numbers, Apple’s iPhone owns 42% of the US smartphone market while Android’s top manufacturing contender, Samsung, has 26%.

Android versus iOS numbers go back and forth depending on what stat you’re looking at: number of new purchases or activations, number of apps downloaded, what countries you’re considering, etc. But when it comes to the US, more Americans have iPhones in their pockets than Androids – and that’s a trend that appears to be growing.

The data comes from the NPD Group’s Q4 2013 Connected Home Report and shows a widening gap over the past year. In Q4 2012, iPhone ownership was at 35% while Samsung claimed 22%. And the smartphone market in the US still has room to grow. From TechCrunch:

The wider picture in the U.S. is that smartphone penetration in the U.S. continues to rise, NPD further notes. Now some 60% of mobile phone users are using smartphones, compared to 52% a year ago. This indicates that, despite some theories that maturing markets will see a rise in low-cost sales over premium devices with a shift from early to medium/late adopters, this doesn’t appear to have happened as much in the U.S. — or carriers, resellers and Apple have found a market for less-expensive and older iPhone models, along with its newer, more expensive editions.

While more people are upgrading to smartphones, Apple and Samsung remain by far the dominate players. TechCruch notes that LG was the only other manufacturer to see growth in 2013.

Smartphone ownership growth

But outside of the US, it looks like Android as a whole is the preferred OS in most countries. A November 2013 study by StatCounter found that iOS was the prevailing platform in only 38 of 227 countries.

Mobile OS popularity by country

With so much room for growth on a global scale, manufacturers and operating systems are going to have to fight to gain – and retail – the lead. Play attention to which phones and platforms are popular in your area so you’re always ready to test!

Samsung Accounts for Majority of Most Popular Devices

If you’re testing an Android app and targeting the most popular devices, odds are you have at least a couple Samsungs in that lot. Since 2002 (yes, the pre-app age of flip phones) Samsung has had 14 different handheld devices ship more than 10 million units, which makes them one of the top players in mobile manufacturing.

Last week, Samsung announced that the Galaxy Note III (which was released just two months ago) joined the club. Since 2010, the Galaxy S, Galaxy S II, Galaxy Note, Galaxy X III, Galaxy Note II, Galaxy S4 and now the Galaxy Note III have all shipped more than 10 million units.

The Galaxy line is so popular, in fact, that they account for 11 of the 12 devices that make up the top 25% of most common Android devices according to OpenSignal. The Nexus 4 takes the lone none-Samsung place. In the next quadrant, the Galaxy line accounts for 31 of 48 devices.

Are you noticing a pattern here? If Samsung releases a new Galaxy device, you better add it to your testing plan ASAP – they are a popular family of devices.

Samsung 10 Million Seller Club

It’s iPhone 5 Day: What Did We Learn?

iPhone 5S and iPhone 5CToday is my own nerd holiday! Apple unleashed two new devices, the iPhone 5C and 5S. Let’s talk about the 5C first. Traditionally, when releasing a new iPhone, Apple would discount previous generations. For the first time, it has decided to release the existing phone guts in an all-new package. This means that customers can get the same level of phone out of the popular iPhone 5 (including the 4-inch Retina display and A6 processor) but in a new design that feel fresh.

The real news comes in the form of the iPhone 5S. Sure, it may look similar to last year’s model, but under the hood is a brand new A7 processor, bringing 64-bit architecture to the smartphone world. Apple claims 5x the speed over the previous generation. But of course, developers will have to catch up by compiling (and testing!) their apps in 64-bit. Additionally, the A7 processor brings new motion capabilities to the iPhone. The new higher-end device also brings an upgraded camera, with a larger sensor and the ability to shoot slow-motion video. Lastly, the much-rumored fingerprint sensor brings a new level of security to the iPhone. Gone are the days of simple passcodes, Apple has introduced Touch ID, a sensor that enables you to quickly sign into your device with your own finger.

Both devices (and all new iOS devices) come with iWork and iLife apps for free. Allowing users to not just consume but also create content on their iOS devices.

Of course, we can’t forget the biggest announcement of the day: iOS 7 is 8 days away. With fluid motions, a new UI, improved multitasking and over 1,500 APIs, iOS 7 will bring new features to users, and challenges to developers, be sure to check out our 7 iOS 7 Tips video and eBook to learn how you may be affected, and how to prepare.

Infographic: The Great Tablet Debate

Long time readers of mobileapptesting.com have no doubt heard us reference Applause – the free mobile app quality tool from uTest. Basically, it helps developers and business owners understand how users feel about their apps; what they liked and disliked. If the tool covered tablet hardware (which it currently does not) then perhaps we could have come out with an infographic as cool and detailed as this one from eBay.

Take a look:

tablet_infographic

The Pros & Cons of the Major Mobile Operating Systems

Major Mobile Operating SystemsSmartphone operating systems often inspire dire loyalty in their users. Once someone owns an iPhone/Android/Windows Phone they rarely switch. But sometimes it’s good to put emotional attachment aside and take an objective look at what each OS really offers – you never know, you might be persuaded to switch.

Rosemary Hattersley, of PC Advisor, took the time to write a multi-page look at the most recent versions of the iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry operating systems. Here’s a recap of some of the pros and cons of each OS:

iOS 6

Pros

  • The latest version of Apple’s mobile OS … offers the broadest choice of apps of all smartphones and comes with plenty of Apple’s own apps.
  • The likable Safari web browser supports multiple web pages.
  • You can easily add multiple email accounts from Outlook to iCloud Mail, Yahoo, Google and Exchange, then designate contacts as VIPs. You can view inboxes separately or show all messages in a single inbox view. Mail is searchable by name or subject via a field at the top of the screen.
  • Integration with audio hardware is impressive via both Bluetooth and Apple AirPlay wireless streaming.
  • Aside from the sheer number of apps in the App Store, one of the big advantages of iOS is that Apple curates all apps, so rogue installations (and malware) are less likely than with Android.

Cons

  • The lack of support for Flash means some websites don’t work.
  • Voice search via the Siri digital assistant is largely a gimmick and requires a Wi-Fi connection to use.
  • [Document attachments] can be saved locally only if you have certain apps installed which support those file types.

Android

Pros

  • Google Ice Cream Sandwich (the version before the current Jelly Bean) covers all the basics, with fancier media management options (Samsung. HTC and Sony) and prettier weather and contact features (HTC in particular) being added on some handsets by manufacturers.
  • One clear advantage is the well-developed Google Maps app. Strong mapping, 3D and satellite views are accompanied by built-in voice-control and turn-by-turn navigation.
  • Android also offers built-in voice search, NFC support, screen mirroring and contactless content sharing. You can ‘throw’ photos and music to devices across the room and queue up actions in a form of home automation.
  • Google Now (which is now available for iOS devices, albeit in a slightly more limited form) serves up useful information based on your past behaviour, but also on location and time of the day.

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Battle of the Mobile Operating Systems: Who’s in the Lead?

While there are several major players in the mobile OS space, the battle for market share has really only centered around two operating systems; Android and iOS. Both consistently neck-in-neck for market share, Android has taken a slight lead over the past two years. According to TechCrunch, mobile advertising network Jumptap predicts that this trend will only continue:

“As we and the analysts have noted before, we are continuing to see a two-horse race here (or two horses and two ponies, to be exact). But the growth in market share appears to have now reached a peak. Android, as it has for the past two years, will continue to remain in the lead as the most popular platform, with Apple close behind, but gains are now minor compared to years before.”

The mobile OS battle for market share

While Microsoft and Blackberry are the “ponies” of the OS show,  a recent post in the Software Testing Blog says to keep a close eye on Microsoft:

“It’s still up in the air whether Microsoft/Windows will ever give Apple and Google a real run for their money. Plenty of people out there are naysayers and the OS certainly has a lot of catching up to do. But keep your ear to the ground, if little wins like this keep cropping up, we could have a viable third place in the mobile OS race.”

In addition, several OS debuts at Mobile World Congress this year suggest that there may be more than two “ponies” in the race. In fact, there could be 5. According to Jacqueline Seng of CNET:

“This year’s Mobile World Congress saw the debut of upstart mobile operating systems (OS) from Mozilla, Tizen and Canonical.

The three open-source OSes–Firefox, Tizen and Ubuntu Touch–are all hoping to edge in to Android’s turf and monetize on all the cash Google is making through its app store.”  Continue Reading

Could You Handle the Mobile-Only Challenge?

The Mobile ChallengeCould you handle being all-mobile all the time? I’m talking about throwing away your PC, Ultrabook, tablet, home phone, desk phone and all other tech devices to be nothing less than completely and utterly mobile.

Impossible you say? Well Benjamin Robins, the co-founder of Palador Inc., took this challenge several months ago. Bob Egan of Forbes had an opportunity to interview Ben on his mobile-only personal and professional life. Here’s a look at his interview:

 “For one year, you will work mobile-only. What does that mean?

Mobility is perceived to have many limitations when it comes to getting the job done. My mobile-only initiative offers a counterpoint to debunk the myth that mobile devices are merely for content consumption and not for creation. Mobile-only is about breaking free of the PC paradigm. For the next year, I am working solely from a smartphone as my only compute device.

The idea wasn’t just to replace all the PC equipment with mobile equipment, but to really consolidate the compute experience to a single device. The hypothesis is, do I really need to carry all this stuff around with me or can I accomplish computing, communication and creation from a single device?

While many people talk about the idea of mobile-only, you’re making it a reality.

That’s right. Beyond dispelling the fallacy of mobile limitations, the point of the project is to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. I believe we are at a tipping point in this industry where the mobile ecosystem can support this type of endeavor. I certainly aim to find out. During the course of the year, I am taking stock of my user experience, device performance, information security attributes and the application capabilities.  From a practical sense, these attributes create the divide between the fiction and the realities of people cutting the cord and going mobile only.

For a lot of consumers and business people, their mobile phone is now their only phone. But very few are willing to ditch their desktop or laptop, too. What motivated you to go to that next level?

The genesis for this project had its roots in that I was tired of lugging around so many devices and equipment. Who wants to carry laptops, tablets, and cellphones as we go from place to place? Not me. On top of that, many of us have a desktop in the office and at another one at home. It’s equipment overload. It has become important to me to greatly simplify the physical and emotional weight of technology in my life.  To do that it is important to streamline, yet assemble a posture where I had access to the applications and data that I need with the same level of computing power anytime, anywhere.

…What have been the biggest surprises so far?

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Windows Phone Popularity Rising in Europe

Windows Phone LumiaIt’s still no Android or iOS, but the Windows Phone picked up some ground in the European Union during the close of 2012. According to a report by Kantar WorldPanel ComTech, Windows Phones accounted for 5.4% of smartphone sales in the EU in the three months leading up to the winter holidays. From GigaOm:

Windows Phone posted large percentage sales gains over the year ago period in various EU regions:

– Great Britain: 5.9 percent, up from 2.2 percent
– Italy: 13.9 percent, up from 2.8 percent
– Spain: 1.8 percent, up from 0.4 percent

Overall, the gains appear to have come at the cost of both BlackBerry and Symbian devices. The latter is to be expected as Symbian sales have understandably taken a nose dive since Nokia transitioned to Windows Phone starting in February, 2011. As far as BlackBerry sales dropping: That could be due to Research In Motion using 2012 to reset its management team and product focus, sacrificing handset innovation in the process last year.

Read the full article at GigaOm >>>

The spike was helped by the sale of 4.4 million Lumia devices.

The moral of this story? While the mobile world has some clear front runners, it isn’t a two-device show. Don’t ignore the smaller operating systems in your quest for app glory.

RIM Making Major Push for BB10 Apps

Blackberry App WorldResearch in Motion (RIM) is ramping up big time for the launch of their hot new Blackberry 10 later this month. In a recent push for apps, RIM received 15,000 app submission for the new (mostly touchscreen) platform in less than 38 hours. The massive wave is thanks to “port-a-thons” RIM held to encourage developers to extend existing apps to the new marketplace. From CRN:

“When we decided to hold a series of Port-A-Thons to help our developer community port their apps over to BlackBerry 10 we had no idea how wildly successful they would be,” the company wrote in its developer blog. “This past weekend’s Port-A-Thons brought in more than 15,000 apps! It has been truly inspiring to see so much excitement and support for BlackBerry 10.”

Those apps still have to be approved before they become available in the Blackberry App World store. Beyond reports about the port-a-thons, there haven’t been any hints about how many apps will be available for BB10, but RIM has been actively focusing on building up the BB10 app base prior to launch. From CNET:

Alec Saunders, RIM’s vice president of developer relations and ecosystem development, told CNET that RIM intends to launch its OS with more apps than any other first-generation operating system.

RIM looks poised to meet that goal. Apple and Android both launched with sparse app collections and Microsoft reported that their app market launched with 7,000 apps, according to the CNET article. When RIM debuted its updated Blackberry App World in September (without BB10 specific apps) it reportedly had a headcount of 105,000 apps, music, movies and tv shows.

It will be interesting to see how many BB10 apps debut later this month. But no matter what goal RIM meets, it still has a long way to go before it catches up with Apple and Android, which are both sitting around the 775,000 available apps mark.

Why You Will (Probably) Never Switch Smartphones

Despite all my preaching and praising, I have yet to convince anyone to get a Windows Phone device. It’s not that I can’t be convincing – or that Windows Phone isn’t great – it’s just that once people get used to a specific device and operating system, they tend to stick with it, for better or worse.

Nobody knows this better than Ben Rudolph, Director of Windows Phone Evangelism. Ben gave a great interview to VentureBeat not too long ago, where he addressed this very topic. Here is an excerpt that pretty much sums it up:

VentureBeat: So a phone is probably the most personal device, right, of  all the electronics that you’ve got. Is it hard to get people to switch to a new  type of phone?

Rudolph: I don’t think it’s hard to switch. Like anything else, when  you try something new, you got to learn it, explore it, find all the settings.  But what’s interesting, I find, is that people who are switching, or even getting a smartphone for the first time … because it’s built around the stuff  that you want to do and the stuff you care about, it’s very intuitive.

I don’t need all of Facebook all the time; I just want to be able to see what  my wife and my best friends are up to. So I pin my wife to my Start screen. I  pin a group of my best friends, and I just get those chunks of Facebook.

So once you break out of that paradigm model of using apps for absolutely everything, once you understand that that’s not the only way you have to do  something, the tile starts to make a lot of sense, and you start pinning and unpinning, and you’re off and running.

VentureBeat: So who’s the most resistant? Is it someone who’s maybe a  feature phone owner or an iPhone owner who’s been an Apple user their entire  life, or is it an Android owner?

Rudolph:  It’s funny. Feature phone users are actually very receptive. If they’re  ready to buy a smartphone, they’re ready to buy our smartphone.

There are a lot of people who have a very heavy emotional attachment to their  phones, but it’s not specifically to the phone, it’s what the phone does, and the things that you accomplish with it.

I do find it interesting (and totally logical) that feature phone users would be open to Windows Phone, or any phone for that matter, as they have no real point of reference. But as Rudolph said, once people choose a smartphone (and the apps that come with it) they tend to have an emotional attachment to it. And that – your emotional attachment – is why you will probably never switch smartphones.