Image | Irita Kirsbluma
When you see an American film, surely one of the things that strikes you is the cars they use: large and in some cases, even trucks. If you go to Japan, the most popular cars are smaller and more manageable. The same thing happens with mobiles; although they are many manufacturers and global models, each country prefers specific characteristics.
Scientiamobile published a complete study (in PDF) that breaks down which phones, the screen sizes and the operating systems that are the most popular on each continent. The report was carried out by measuring the number of HTTP requests made by users. Do you want to find out? You will discover that there are many differences between regions.
We begin with Asia, where the first thing that stands out is the low percentage of tablets; 17% of total mobile devices. If we look at the best selling phones, it´s easy to understand this result. The Samsung Galaxy S4, followed by the Samsung Galaxy Note II and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 are the most popular phones.
The phones with a diagonal from 4 to 5 inches accounts for 90% of the total. Why do Asians prefer large screens? There are several reasons: some note the intense marketing of some brands in the region (like Samsung or LG), but it can also be attributed to the strength of the videogame industry and online videos in those countries. Finally, another reason Kantar explained is that when people are tight on money, they opt to purchase a phablet that serves as a substitute for a telephone, a tablet and in many cases, a computer. As a result, Android dominates the market (with 77% share) while the iOS falls far behind (14%).
In North America we have quite a different situation, with the Apple iPhone among the most popular devices during the third quarter of 2014. This is the region where the iOS has its highest market shares. Of course, as the report is for the months before the launch of the new iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus, this means that 57% of the mobiles are between 4 and 5 inches.
Although in recent months Android has gotten closer to the iOS ranking in the US, the truth is that Apple phones are still the kings. Why? The analyst Benedict Evans explained it very well a few years ago: in the United States, phone companies offer subsidized phones, so the price difference of an iPhone compared to another brand´s phone is very small. In short: if you commit to a phone company, you can get an iPhone at a reasonable price.
We turn to Europe, where the mixture of so many different markets means that the results are quite varied. In this case, the iPhone competes with the Samsung Galaxy in popularity, and the Android beats the iOS by a landslide (62% vs. 28%, respectively). It´s worth noting that only Europe and Africa have a small representation of Blackberry, although in the case of Europe it is very low (2%).
What conclusions can we draw from this data? In general, the results are highly variable, as it groups countries with different trends. An example of this is what happens in the United Kingdom (48% Apple and 39% Android) compared to Spain (12% Apple and 82% Android). In this map you can see the market distribution by countries, although generally we can say that the Android dominates.
If until now Apple and Samsung are the Top 5 most popular in all of the continents that we discussed, in South America the Motorola Moto G is the leader with an impressive 17% over four Samsung devices, which follows far behind. As a result, the iOS presence is almost null (7%) and is tied with the Windows Phone (also 7%), which has interesting terminals at a very competitive price.
The reason seems clear; just as in many other countries, the Moto G was released competing in price with low-end devices, but with mid-range benefits, whether we speak of free terminals or subsidized ones. In some concrete countries, as Brazil, the Nokia Lumia 520 is the second most used. In this case, we are talking of a mid-range telephone but very affordably priced.
As to be expected in developing countries, where citizens have limited resources, Africa highlights the presence of low range telephones that are the most used for Internet browsing. The first is the Samsung Galaxy S4 and is the exception, because after that is the Huawei Y220 and the Nokia Lumia 520. Even in tablets you can notice the difference: while the Apple iPad is preferred in the world, here the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 is the leader.
On this continent, iOS marks a minimum quota brand of 4%, surpassed by the Windows Phone (11%) and even the RIM OS (5%). There are a few surprises in operating systems and also in relation to the telephone screens: 30% are between 2 and 4 inches, the lowest percentage if we compare to other regions. Logically, this is due to the popularity of low cost phones.
Curiously, in Africa there is the largest market share of the feature phone (or simple phones that aren´t smartphones) with 20%. To put that in perspective, in South America it´s 9%, in Asia 6% and in North America and Europe 2%. The differences in purchasing power between the continents is also reflected in the most popular phones.
We finish with Oceania, which repeats something similar to what happens in North America, but raised to a maximum power: iOS accounts for 56% of the devices, with the iPhone occupying the top three spots in popularity. Farther down there is Samsung, the Galaxy S4 and the Galaxy S5.
Here another interesting phenomenon occurs: 58% are smartphones and 42% tablets. As the iPhone is so popular (remember, before the iPhone 6 with it´s increased screen size), it seems that for many citizens the screen is too small, for many opt for a second device with a larger screen: ie, a tablet.