Smartphones: What’s More Important, Loyalty Or Users?


Credit: Corbis / Noel Hendrickson

Another analyst house is adding its weight to the Android juggernaut: IDC says that the Google-backed platform is set to become the dominant mobile OS next year in Europe. But all is not lost for Android rivals: a survey from analysts GfK, on smartphone loyalty, seems to indicate that being on top is still very much a moving target.

In its latest quarterly assessment of the smartphone market in Europe, IDC notes that Android is currently in third position in the region, behind Nokia’s Symbian and Apple’s iOS platform. But Android’s contrasting business model, of having a number of vendors developing products using the platform, is resulting in a much higher volume of Android devices flooding the market, and that is translating to a higher volume of sales.

In the first nine months of 2010, HTC led in the Android category, with 39 percent of shipments. Sony (NYSE: SNE) Ericsson (NSDQ: ERIC) took a 27 percent share and Samsung Electronics had 14 percent. Other analysts have predicted that Samsung is set to make big gains going forward, though, with popular devices like the Galaxy S.

Not taken into the account in IDC’s preliminary numbers is the impact of a Symbian working under Nokia; (NYSE: NOK) or how well Windows Phone 7 devices will do in the region. But the bottom line seems to be that people are looking for the next exciting thing:

The iPhone was last year’s hot device and now people are looking for something different,” IDC analyst Francisco Jeronimo told Bloomberg.

And a survey, from GfK, confirms the itchy-feet syndrome, too. Unless you’re an iPhone owner, it seems. Surveying over 2,600 smartphone users across Brazil, Germany, Spain, Britain, the U.S. and China, GfK found that a whopping 56 percent were “keeping their options open” when it came to selecting their next device. Of the dominant smartphone platforms, Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) commanded the highest loyalty from its current owners, at 59 percent:

When it comes to purchasing new devices, Apple and Android appear to be very neck-and-neck in GfK’s results, but considering that Android will be out on so many more devices, it’s no surprise that it is likely to pull ahead in market share.

Going back to IDC’s numbers, what is perhaps most notable is their prediction that overall smartphone shipments, once thought of only as high-end and premium devices, will account for nearly half – 49 percent – of all handset shipments in 2011, compared to 35 percent this year. That’s a clear indication of how mainstream the market has become, and how much there is to play for on the part of handset makers.


Tristan Thomas

Just because Apple has more loyal subscribers does not mean anything. Why do I say this? That would have to be because Android is still surging in market share while Apple is loosing. So my next question is if Android users want to leave Android where are they going? Statistically it is definitely not Apple.

Even Daring fireball’s John Gruber thinks ” Android is winning”

check out the article here:

Thomas Whittle

Well, to address the title of the post directly: Loyalty doen’t mean much to a company if you only have 3 users! I take the point, though. I think the iPhone has had the appearance of having a particularly loyal following. While this is true to an extent, I think it’s significant that for a long time the iPhone was the only “real” smartphone on the market. Android’s success and the widened availability of other smartphones with similar functionality seems to be testing that loyal following, though.

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