iOS devices beat Android in holiday activations, but just barely

Dec 27, 2011

The gift-giving holidays are behind us, and as the dust and eggnog settle, it seems both Apple’s iOS mobile devices and Google’s Android had a big season – but Apple’s was slightly better.

That’s according to a new survey from market research group Localytics, which analyzes the usage of apps with its analytics platform that’s used by 200 million devices worldwide. As GigaOM reports, Localytics found that overall this holiday season, there were 12.5 times more iOS devices accessing apps and playing games worldwide during the weekend of Dec. 25 than during previous weekends.

Meanwhile, Android kept pace and was just barely edged by Apple’s platform. Devices running Google’s operating system were 12 times more common last weekend, falling slightly behind Apple.

The results were split regionally, showing the same lines of division among markets that we’ve been seeing recently. Localytics found that Android devices were more popular in more of the top 20 countries for mobile device ownership, taking 14 of them compared to Apple’s six. But Apple is more popular in many of the big markets it has held for some time. Its top five countries for ownership find the U.S. at the top, followed by Germany, Great Britain, The Netherlands and Italy. Android’s top five claims Samsung home South Korea as the leader, followed by Sweden, Spain, Japan and Hong Kong.

But while Android had more widespread gains this holiday season, it seems iOS made bigger jumps. There were nearly 16 times more iPhones in use during the holidays in the U.S. than usual, along with 6 times more iPads and almost 4 times more iPods. It’s a tough way to look at the data, since Localytics is measuring a change and we aren’t given the base numbers, but while South Korea saw almost 20 times the Android devices in use this weekend as compared to earlier ones this year, it wasn’t enough to offset Apple’s major gains in the countries in which it dominates, like the U.S., the U.K. and Germany.

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Still, it’s the same story of a race too close to call we’ve been seeing lately. Android devices are being activated at an insane rate every day – Google reports 700,000 new devices hitting networks daily – but it’s clear that Apple may still have an edge in many places due to brand name and capabilities, or any of a number of other factors. We saw this season that, for example, Apple’s mobile devices facilitate more online mobile shopping than Android, and that users spend more money when buying through iOS. Obviously, there’s a lot more to the story than just who has more devices and where they’re selling.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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