Are Android users really more loyal than iPhone users?

Apple v Android

The US market may be saturated but Apple has other places to explore.

It looks like Android users just became more loyal to their platforms than before, according to the most recent CIRP data – though only in the mature U.S. smartphone market.

Choose your side

The latest loyalty survey shows that finds that loyalty to both platforms has remained steady since early 2016. Android now enjoys a 91% loyalty rate, compared to 86% for iOS. That’s interesting, given the same company recently claimed interest in iPhone had dampened Android market share.

I’m a little concerned at this reading of the data, as it is “measured as the percentage of customers that remain with each operating system when activating a new phone over the twelve months ending December 2017.”

CIRP bases its findings on quarterly surveys, with a sample of 500 subjects in each, from March 2013-December 2017, that activated a new phone in each of the quarters surveyed.

I think it may also show that customers weren’t quite as excited at Apple’s latest iPhones as they had been expected to be (and as Android manufacturers seem to think they are) – though I think this will change on the introduction of iPHone SE2. There’s nothing like global economic and social uncertainty to dampen consumer spending habits.

Apple v Android loyalty

Loyalty to both platforms is at an all-time high

Loyalty matters

Now both platforms have built these loyal markets, CIRP has some advice (advice that fits in well with Apple’s focus on building services income:

“Loyalty for both Android and iOS increased in 2015 and into 2016, when it leveled off for both operating systems,” said Mike Levin, Partner and Co-Founder of CIRP. “Loyalty is also as high as we’ve ever seen, really from 85-90% at any given point. With only two mobile operating systems at this point, it appears users now pick one, learn it, invest in apps and storage, and stick with it. Now, Apple and Google need to figure out how to sell products and services to these loyal customer bases.”

“Android user loyalty now slightly exceeds that of iOS users,” said Josh Lowitz, Partner and Co-Founder of CIRP. “Over time, Android loyalty gradually increased, as it achieved parity in availability of apps, music and video, and as the user experience on the two platforms became more similar. Android users also benefit from a wide range of phones from different manufacturers, so they can switch hardware without learning a new operating system.”

An interesting about face

“iOS and Android compete more aggressively as the number of first-time smartphone buyers shrinks,” continued Levin. “With fewer users of the legacy smartphone operating systems, basic phone owners, and first-time mobile phone buyers, Android and iOS now mostly gain and lose users to the other operating system.”

I am quite interested in the following statement from CIRP, as in previous year’s the organization’s data seems to have indicated Android to be shedding users to iPhone. Now they seem to have changed their mind…

“Still, the rate of switching between Android and iOS is different than the absolute number of users that switch between the two operating systems,” added Lowitz. “We know Android has a larger base of users than iOS, and because of that larger base, the absolute number of users that switch to iOS from Android is as large or larger than the absolute number of users that switch to Android from iOS. Looking at absolute number of users in this way tends to support claims that iOS gains more former Android users, than Android does former iOS users.”

What makes me think are these previous claims on the part of CIRP:

iOS data

  • In December 2017 quarter, iOS accounted for 39% of activations
  • In December 2016 quarter, iOS accounted for 34% of activations
  • In September 2017 quarter, iOS accounted for 29% of activations

Android data

  • In December 2017 quarter, Android accounted for 60% of U.S. activations
  • In December 2016 quarter, Android accounted for 64% of U.S. activations
  • In September quarter 2017, Android accounted for 71% of U.S. activations.

Perhaps (in the U.S.) we really have sold every smartphone that can be sold to a new user. Perhaps we have truly evolved a connected world of device loving digital tribes?

Jonny Evans

Watching Apple since 1999. I don't say what they should do. I say what they might do. They sometimes do.

3 Responses

  1. frankenstein says:

    Loyal to what? Most don’t know that they have a phone made by one company and the data stealing software is made by another company. Just like most people didn’t understand that their crappy hardware was running crash o matic windows.

  2. Ponter says:

    This is one of those statistical sleights of hand. Far fewer Android users can afford to switch to iPhone, than vice-versa. Many Android users aren’t so much loyal as stuck.
    Now before you accuse me of classism, let me say that I sympathize with the Android users. I wouldn’t have an iPhone if it wasn’t for more wealthy family members helping out, otherwise I’d be using an Android phone as well. Reluctantly, though, as I fear Google’s invasiveness more than I fear Apple’s (and can’t say that I “trust” either).
    Nor would I deny that some people, perhaps many, actually prefer Android. I might too, but I’ve never used Android so can’t really comment. And then there’s the “stickiness” factor. Just sayin’ that this is a meaningless statistic.
    There are lots of things in life toward which one could be loyal. I don’t think tech should be one of them. What kind of loyalty have they shown _us_, after all?

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