Comparison of Apple and Samsung Device Operating System Distribution

Comparison of Apple and Samsung Device Operating System Distribution

  • 19 March 2013

Update (3/20/13): Following reader requests for a more granular breakdown of Android OS distribution by version number, we've provided this additional information for the Samsung data sets in the graph below:

In a March 14th, 2013 interview, on the eve of Samsung’s Galaxy S IV launch event, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller went on the offensive against the Android smartphone ecosystem as part of an interview with the Wall Street Journal. One of the major points Mr. Schiller emphasized was the fragmentation of operating system (OS) versions amongst Android devices – seemingly to contrast that with low fragmentation within the iOS marketplace. The timing of the interview indicates that Apple was looking to directly confront Samsung in particular – both having become chief rivals in the smartphone and tablet marketplaces. Chitika Insights decided to examine statistics from our network to investigate Mr. Schiller’s claims when it comes to the latest devices from both manufacturers.

To determine the current distribution of different OS versions on the iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S III, iPads, and the Samsung Galaxy Tablet family, Chitika Insights sampled hundreds of millions of U.S. and Canadian mobile ad impressions running through the Chitika Ad Network. The data used to compile the current OS version distribution on the aforementioned devices was drawn from the time range of March 6th to March 12th, 2013. A user agent analysis was used to identify the specific devices covered in this study, as well as the operating systems on which they run. A graph depicting the results is below:

A brief summary of the results:

  • iOS 6.1.2, the most recent version of iOS, ranks as the most popular OS on the iPad (49.5% of Web traffic)
  • Jelly Bean (Android 4.2) is the most popular OS on the Samsung Galaxy Tablet family (59.5%)
  • iOS 6.1.2 is also the most used OS by iPhone 5 users (69.1%)
  • For North American Samsung Galaxy S III users, Jelly Bean is the most used OS (89.8%)

While Mr. Schiller is correct that, overall, Android OS distribution is largely fragmented, when it comes to the Android device arguably most competitive to Apple’s iPhone, we observed a lower degree of OS fragmentation within our network.

The propensity of iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S III users to run the most recent operating system at higher rates than their tablet counterparts may be supported by two key factors: over-the-air (OTA) updates, and the fact that smartphones serve as the primary mobile device in terms of frequency of use for consumers. A key takeaway from this relationship is that by better utilizing OTA updates, particularly for tablet users, mobile manufacturers may be able to reduce OS version fragmentation – a problem which has long plagued developers.