Most popular operating systems in South Africa

Android and Windows dominate the operating system (OS) market in South Africa, according to data from StatCounter Global Stats.

As of September 2023, Windows held a share of 60.92% of the desktop OS market, while Android held the top spot in the mobile OS segment with a share of 82.39%.

However, while Android’s holding has remained relatively steady over the past five years, Windows’ has declined significantly from 76.64% in September 2019.

This coincides with a sharp increase in the market share of “unknown” desktop operating systems, which climbed from 11.46% in September 2019 to 24.28% in 2023.

Over the same period, in the desktop OS segment, the market share of the second most popular OS — MacOS — declined slightly from 10.79% in September 2019 to 9.19% in 2023.

Apple also holds the second-place spot in the mobile OS segment, where iOS has seen its market share grow by almost 3% over the past five years.

Together, Apple and Google’s mobile operating systems held 99.69% of the South African market.

StatCounter Global Stats analyzes over 5 billion monthly page views of around 1.5 million websites to determine the leading brands and vendors in various industries and regions.

Its data is provided in more detail below.

Desktop OS market share

Windows is the dominant desktop OS in South Africa. However, its dominance has declined over the past five years.

It held a share of 76.64% of the South African market in September 2019, which had declined to 60.92% as of September 2023.

While Apple’s MacOS is the second most popular named operating system in South Africa with a market share holding of 9.19%, “unknown” desktop OSes hold a higher share at 24.28% combined.

Linux’s market share in South Africa has grown significantly over the past five years, from less than 1% in September 2019 and 2020 to 5.19% in September 2023.

Desktop OS market share in South Africa over the past five years is summarised in the table below.

Desktop OS market share in South Africa: September 2019 to September 2023
Operating system September 2023 September 2022 September 2021 September 2020 September 2019
Windows 60.92% 64.84% 71.83% 71.77% 76.64%
MacOS 9.19% 8.99% 10.66% 16.57% 10.79%
Linux 5.19% 1.42% 1.08% 0.95% 0.99%
Chrome OS 0.37% 0.32% 0.25% 0.13% 0.12%
Free BSD 0.05% 0.06% 0.05% 0.00% 0.00%
Unknown 24.28% 24.37% 16.13% 10.58% 11.46%

Mobile OS market share

Android held 82.39% of the mobile operating system market share in South Africa as of September 2023, dropping slightly from 82.94% in September 2022.

Its market share reached a peak of 84.66% in September 2020 and has been declining gradually since.

Comparatively, the iOS market share in South Africa has grown considerably over the past five years, from 14.65% in September 2019 to 17.30% in September 2023.

The mobile operating system from Apple is the second most popular in the country.

An unnamed “Samsung” mobile operating system held the third highest market share in South Africa at 0.18% as of September 2023.

Tizen — a mobile Linux distribution for various devices, including smartphones — has seen its market share drop from 0.59% in September 2019 to 0.04% in September 2023.

StatCounter Global Stats also lists data on the Series 40, “Nokia Unknown”, Linux, Blackberry, Windows, and other “unknown” operating systems.

These all hold very low market shares of less than 1%.

Mobile OS market share in South Africa: September 2019 to September 2023
Operating system September 2023 September 2022 September 2021 September 2020 September 2019
Android 82.39% 82.94% 84.51% 84.66% 83.55%
iOS 17.30% 16.65% 15.05% 14.83% 14.65%
Samsung 0.18% 0.18% 0.17% 0.07% 0.00%
Tizen 0.04% 0.07% 0.09% 0.19% 0.59%
Series 40 0.03% 0.04% 0.06% 0.07% 0.33%
Nokia Unknown 0.02% 0.05% 0.05% 0.06% 0.15%
Linux 0.00% 0.01% 0.02% 0.00% 0.00%
Blackberry OS 0.00% 0.00% 0.02% 0.04% 0.21%
Windows 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.01% 0.29%
Unknown 0.04% 0.06% 0.03% 0.07% 0.23%

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Most popular operating systems in South Africa