It looks increasingly like Android will be the major challenger to both Apple's iPhone and iPad.
In the tablet market, Apple's iOS has a commanding lead, while Android is the only other OS that registers a market share in double digits. In the smartphone arena, there are other significant competitors, such as BlackBerry and Windows. However, BlackBerry market share is dropping, according to comScore's latest survey -- in fact, Apple surpassed RIM in comScore's April report -- while Microsoft has yet to make much of a dent.
How do Apple's iOS and Google's Android stack up head to head? We look at the numbers.
The iPad held a commanding 83.9% of the worldwide tablet market last year, with Android tablets far behind at 14.2%, according to Gartner. Other stats show a similar healthy lead. For example, a recent Modelmetrics Web survey found 83% of respondents planning to roll out iPads in the enterprise and 34% with plans for Android tablets.
However, Gartner expects the market-share difference to narrow considerably over the next few years, with iOS holding 47.1% by 2015 and Android growing to 38.6%.
Bottom line: iOS should remain the market leader for the next few years, but Android is expected to grow considerably -- largely at Apple's expense.
Despite its reputation as a groundbreaking smartphone when first introduced in 2007, the iPhone doesn't have the market clout of the iPad. Apple has slightly more than a quarter of the U.S. smartphone market, according to a comScore MobiLens report, but IDC estimates just 15.7% of the global pie .
And some analysts expect the iPhone to slip worldwide in the coming years as both Android and Windows Phone gain traction. IDC predicts that Windows Phone will be the No. 2 OS behind Android worldwide by 2015, with iOS in third place.
Latest stats from comScore show that Android became the U.S. smartphone market leader early this year, overtaking Research In Motion's BlackBerry. The iPhone was third. Google said in April that there are now more than 350,000 Android smartphones activated every day.
Bottom line: Google's Android has done an impressive job of surpassing Apple in the smartphone market, despite the iPhone's early lead.
It's arguable whether any user needs access to 350,000 apps (iOS) -- or even 88,000 (Android). What's key is whether the most important, compelling apps are available on a platform.
That's tough to measure, but the overall number of apps on a platform is a useful sign of how attractive it is for developers and how likely it is that new apps will be written for the platform.
Bottom line: Here, too, Apple has a major lead, but the Android market has become a significant player.
Apple has staked out a considerable lead in tablets -- a market with huge growth potential. Gartner forecasts media-tablet shipments will soar 17-fold: from 17 million units last year to 70 million this year and 294 million by 2015.
Even with Apple's share expected drop from 84% last year to 47% in 2015, that's an enormous new business for the company, with an estimated 138 million devices to ship in 2015. But Android may not be far behind at 39% and 113 million. Both iOS and Android are likely to be key players in "post-PC" mobile computing.
Worldwide smartphone shipments are expected to more than triple from 2010 to 2015, also according to Gartner. Android growth is forecast to jump from 67 million units shipped to 539 million as its market share more than doubles. Apple's global share will also rise but more modestly, from 47 million to 190 million units shipped and from 15.7% to 17.2%.
Here, Android looks like the clear winner -- although Apple may be helped by all those new iPad owners, some of whom may decide they want a phone with the same OS and apps as their tablet.
Mari Keefe gathered much of the data for this report.
Sharon Machlis is online managing editor at Computerworld. Her e-mail address is [email protected] You can follow her on Twitter Twitter @sharon000.