Comparing Mac v/s PC to iOS v/s Android

Tim Cook in a recent interview with the WSJ said that he did not see the Mac v/s PC war of yesteryear to be the same as the iOS v/s Android war of today, citing mainly the example of a strong eco system of iOS compared to "crappy" Android App experience. It has been a question that has intrigued a lot of thinkers recently and I think is a good topic for debate. 

I don’t view it that way (Will the smartphone market follow the PC market, where Apple is a niche player?). There are several reasons. If you look back at the Mac/Windows battle that was going on at the time, you’d find that one of the things that was the catalyst for separating Mac from Windows share was applications... We have over a million apps on iOS. We have over half-million that have been optimized for iPad. That half-million compares to 1,000 for Android tablets. That’s one of the reasons, although not the only reason, why the experience on Android tablets is so crappy because the app is nothing more than a stretched out smartphone app.
— WSJ

The question here is that will Apple's iOS fade away like the Mac, not in terms of quality or usage share, but purely in terms of market share? Ben Evans recently posted an excellent excerpt hot on the heels of Apple's recent holiday quarter results announcement. He has some excellent points on top of some very resourceful plots that shed some light into why this comparison is not valid.

The jest of his argument is that Windows at its prime had the same number of devices with it installed compared to what iOS has now (or will have in the near future). Or there were around 500 million Windows machines in the year 2000, when Mac had already lost its battle with Windows. iOS now has close to 500 million devices with it running on them. So even a 10% global market share in smartphones and connected tablets now mean 500 million devices for iOS! And this is on top of his argument (similar to Tim Cook's) on how strong an ecosystem Apple possesses. 

Certainly, this isn’t ‘Windows versus Mac all over again’. There are now 490m iOS devices in use, but PCs only hit that number in around 2000, long after Apple lost the last ecosystem battle. Apple sold 51m iPhones last quarter - total PC sales in 1995 were 59.5m. That is, the iOS ecosystem now is much bigger than the winning ecosystem back then.
— Ben Evans

Other points he argues about are that though the number of devices that Windows had in 2000 and what iOS has now are the same. The people who are using them are totally different, Windows computers in 2000 were mainly used by corporate customers who did not care about how their computing experience was and only cared about specs on the sheet whereas iOS customers are common folks who seem to prefer quality over quantity in terms of experience. Also he points to an unsettled mobile market (as of today) compared to the PC market that remained fairly settled for almost 15 years. On the whole, though it might be tempting to compare the Mac v/s PC war of yesterday to the iOS v/s Android war of today on the surface, it does not make any sense when you actually think about it. 

On the whole though it might be tempting to compare the Mac v/s PC war of yesterday to the iOS v/s Android war of today on the surface, it does not make any sense when you actually think about it.