For most technologists, the past year was like watching a world class tennis match between Apple and Google. The two monsters of Silicon Valley spent most of the year trading incredible feats and displays of engineering brilliance. Although many statistics are cited when talking about the success of Apple and Google, one accolade is can't be avoided -- global mobile operating system market share.
The reason people care most about mobile OS market share (i.e. - which operating system is more prevelent) is because it gives some insight into which devices consumers are choosing. Android and iOS have each led the race at different points during the year, but as it stands, Android is currently on more mobile devices than any other operating system in the world. It's a great position for Google to be in, but no one expected Google president Eric Schmidt to declare victory just yet.
Well, Eric Schmidt did the unthinkable. He declared victory over Apple. Schmidt thinks that Android has hit a critical mass of users and that fact alone will sustain revenue growth and interest in the operating system. "This is a huge platform change; this is of the scale of 20 years ago -- Microsoft versus Apple," said Schmidt in a Bloomberg report. "We're winning that war pretty clearly now."
Schmidt didn't directly site mobile operating system market share statistics, but it's no suprise that he waited until after the most recent report found Android to be on a large majority of mobile devices. The popular market analysis company Gartner reported last month that Android controls 72.4 percent of the world's mobile device market. The stronghold that Google currently has on the global operating system market share is undeniable, but it's important to note that Google does not make any money off of the hardware it sells.
The same can't be said about Apple. Apple has a more meticulously controlled operating system, but Apple has also been able to make money for every piece of hardware sold. Schmidt openly admits to the difference in strategy. "The core strategy is to make a bigger pie," said Schmidt in a CNN story. "We will end up with a not perfectly controlled and not perfectly managed bigger pie by virtue of open systems."
Apple has never swayed away from its original strategy. Although it doesn't control a majority of the mobile operating system market share, the iPhone 5, iPad and iPad Mini are selling incredibly well. The iPhone 5 is the "most successful iPhone launch ever" according to AT&T, the only U.S. carrier that has hosted every version of hte iPhone. In addition the iPhone 5's success, the iPad is the highest-selling tablet in the world. The iPad made up for 55 percent of worldwide tablet shipments in the third quarter.
Is Google Really 'Winning'?
The statistic that Eric Schmidt is referring to when he says that Google is "winning the mobile war" is one that doesn't earn his company any money. Schmidt and the Google investors are banking on the probability that market saturation will eventually bring dollars their direction. Whether the company is actually winning the mobile wars simply depends on how you slice the data.
Apple may already be turning its focus toward another industry according to reports. Apple CEO Tim Cook, who has done very few interviews since taking over company founder Steve Jobs' role at Apple, recently sat down for an interview with NBC's Brian Williams. Cooks answered several questions about the company's products and where he expected the company to innovate next. Although Cook was reluctant to give away specific details about new technology, he did allude to interest in the television industry.
"When I go into my living room and turn on the TV, I feel like I have gone backwards in time by 20 to 30 years," said Cook in his interview with Williams. "It's an area of intense interest. I can't say more than that."
Of course, no timetable was given about when Apple might, if at all, enter the television industry. For more than 5 years, rumors have been flying about a device unofficially dubbed "iTV," not to be confused with Apple TV, which is a device that already exists. Experts believe that Apple will eventually build a full-scale television set and create deals with network content providers to revolutionize the television industry in the same way it once revolutionized the music industry. Walter Isaacson, the late Steve Jobs' biographer, alluded to the "iTV" in his mega-hit book about Jobs. Allusions by Isaacson have only added to the mystique of the highly anticipated device.