Apple's iPhone the best known smartphone in India, but Android is OS king: Nielsen

In terms of mobile operating systems, Android captures almost half of the Indian smartphone market, according to a study by Nielsen Informate Mobile Insights. The study looks at the top mobile OS in the country and the purchase behaviour across them -– both from a device as well as an m-commerce perspective. Android's supremacy can be attributed to its presence across all price points for handsets and the huge selection of free applications available on Google Play.

Symbian comes a close second to Android with 40 per cent of the market share (meaning that the two together account for almost 90 per cent of the Indian smartphone market), while the recently launched Windows Phone is also gaining momentum in the smartphone market, with its market share almost at par with Blackberry.

While Apple's iPhone (powered by iOS) may be the most well-known smartphone in the market, the number of people who actually use it in the country is very low. Apple's iOS has the lowest penetration with only 1 in 100 smartphone users having one. However, the iPhone continues to remain an aspirational device for many.

Purchase behaviour

Irrespective of the low penetration, iOS and Blackberry platforms have the maximum proportion of users (more than 19 per cent) who purchase apps or make purchases within an installed app (in-app purchases). Apple users are the most evolved users in terms of spending money on buying applications, making purchases within applications, online purchases or paying bills online, considering more than 20 per cent have engaged in some sort of m-commerce.

Interestingly, in comparison to one-time payment for paid apps, in-app purchases within freemium apps are more popular among the smartphone users in India.

App boom

According to the study, apps are the driving force behind the evolving usage patterns. While calls and SMS were once the main functions on a mobile phone, today apps have ushered in the age of infotainment-on-the-go. They extend the functionality of one's smartphone and bring in a world of information, communication, social media and gaming to the mobile audience. The importance attached to apps can be seen first-hand from the rapid adoption of Android, which accounted for 62 per cent of the smartphone purchases between July-September 2012.


One in every ten smartphone users engages in some kind of online transaction on their smartphones. These can vary from buying products to paying bills or both. While 22 per cent iOS and 16 per cent Blackberry users had indulged in some kind of m-commerce in October last year, in comparison, the percentage of Android, Windows Phone and Symbian users indulging in m-commerce were as low as 11 per cent (Android), 8 per cent (Windows Phone) and 7 per cent (Symbian).

(Edited by Prem Udayabhanu)

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