When it comes to bragging about some of Android’s more impressive achievements, Google isn’t exactly shy. Over the past few years, Google has never missed an opportunity to let us know how many Android activations they’ve seen or how Android shipments have been doing.
Curiously, though, it’s been a while since we’ve heard anything substantive about the current state of Android. As highlighted in the tweet below, Google hasn’t graced us with any compelling Android data since last summer.
“Google hasn’t given a new Android [shipment] statistic since last summer” –@BenedictEvans
— Horace Dediu (@asymco) July 27, 2015
So what gives? Is it possible that the days of rapid Android growth are behind us?
It’s entirely plausible. After all, after a certain point, there are only so many new users to attract. Just last summer, for instance, Google touted that there were over 1 billion active Android users per month. That’s an incredible statistic, but one that’s hard to improve upon in a meaningful way.
Earlier this year, data from Strategy Analytics revealed that Android’s share of the worldwide smartphone market checked in at 81.2%. Again, an impressive figure that’s hard to improve upon.
Take a step back, one of the underlying challenges facing Android and its future growth prospects is that Apple’s rival iOS ecosystem is much “stickier”. In other words, iPhone users are much more likely to stay with the iPhone than Android users are likely to stay with Android. Looked at from that perspective, a unit of iPhone marketshare is more valuable than an equivalent unit of Android marketshare.
All that said, it’s not as if Android is on the decline. Rather, it’s more so that the tremendous growth Android has enjoyed over the past few years may finally be starting to wane.
Notably, Apple faces a similar growth challenge domestically. Though overall iPhone sales are accelerating, sales growth in the U.S. is not as strong as it once was. Indeed, if it weren’t for incredibly amazing iPhone sales in China last quarter, Apple’s iPhone sales figures would have been rather disappointing.
Looking at 2015 sales overall, an IDC report from earlier this May relayed that Android smartphone growth this year will be slower than the broader worldwide market.
As reported earlier in May, smartphone shipments in China actually declined year over year in the first quarter of 2015, showing that the largest market in the world has reached a level of maturity where rapid growth will be harder to achieve. This has implications for Android because China has been a critical market for Android smartphone shipments in recent years, accounting for 36% of total volume in 2014. As Chinese OEMs shift their focus from the domestic market to the next high-growth markets, they will face a number of challenges, including competition from ‘local’ brands.