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Mobile OS loyalty: how iOS, Android and others stack up

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When a customer switched phones in June, if they had an Android(s GOOG) or an iOS(s AAPL) device, they mostly stayed committed to that OS. But, according to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners’ latest research, iOS users in general were just a bit more likely to stick with the iPhone than and Android users were to pick another Android smartphone.

Here’s CIRP’s chart calculating the loyalty rates of smartphone users by the mobile OS they choose. It shows 78 percent of iOS users chose another iPhone, while 67 percent of Android users stayed with Google’s OS. There is some switching among those though: 14 percent of former iOS users went Android, while 27 percent of former Android users crossed over to the Apple mobile ecosystem.

You can also see how iOS and Android are continuing to decimate the previous era’s smartphone champ, Blackberry(S BBRY): 34 percent of former Blackberry users switched to Android, while nearly half, 48 percent, moved over to iOS.

CIRP mobile OS loyalty June

But the real battle that that Google and Apple need to focus on now is winning the feature phone users who have yet to upgrade to a smartphone. So far, Android is winning, gathering 50 percent of basic phone users, while just 39 percent chose iOS. This fight explains why Apple is pushing its iPhone 4 and 4S so heavily (and having pretty good success). It wants to lure in users who don’t mind upgrading to a fancier phone as long as it’s cheap, like the free iPhone 4 or $99 iPhone 4S with carrier contract.

In this chart, you can see a more granular break down of Android device makers and how their individual loyalty rates compare to the iPhone:

Smartphone brand loyalty CIRP June

Just as the previous graph showed, iPhone owners are pretty loyal, with a 78 percent retention rate — though if they are going to switch, they mostly end up choosing a Samsung device, which speaks to Samsung’s aggressive recent ad campaigns against the iPhone. Samsung performs next best, with 52 percent loyalty to its brand of smartphone. But HTC (27 percent), LG (18 percent), Motorola (9 percent) and Blackberry (10 percent) performed miserably when it came to keeping their customers.

16 Responses to “Mobile OS loyalty: how iOS, Android and others stack up”

  1. stormyparis

    I think you need a deeper analysis to make sense of numbers, because installed bases are different. To illustrate with a contrived example: if Brand1 has 90% marketshare, and Brrand2 10%, brand2 getting 50% of sales form ex-brand1 customers vs 5% ex-brand2 for brand1 does not mean a major exodus from brand 1 to brand2 is going on, on the contrary: 5% of brand1’s customers are moving to brand 2, but 50% of brand2 customers are moving to brand1.

  2. I think the table analysis can be read differently. The numbers show that Andoid can actually attract more IOS users (27%) than IOS can attract Android users (14%). So, I think it’s not about loyalty, but attractiveness.

  3. Erica’s description of the findings leave me puzzled.

    She wrote “…iOS users in general were just a bit more likely to stick with the iPhone than and Android users were to pick another Android smartphone.”

    Note that she wrote “a bit”. To me, a bit means the numbers were close.

    Yet iPhone users were 11 percentage points, and 16% more likely to stay with their platform. Twice as many (on a percentage basis) of Android users switched to IOS than the other way around.

    The analysis is just not supported by the data. Why, I can’t say.

  4. Roy Chi

    Although these numbers seem to imply that iPhone users are generally happier with their iPhones than Android users are with theirs, I think it’s not really that simple. As an iPhone user of 2 years, and now an Android user of 2 years, I believe it’s more about Apple doing a better job of trapping people in the Apple ecosystem than it is with general satisfaction with iPhones. Once you get locked into iTunes, OSX on your MacBook, and your iOS Apps, it’s much more difficult to leave the Apple ecosystem than it is with Android. For me, I didn’t really like the iPhone, but it was just more difficult to make the switch.

    Also, most people still use low-end, Android phones — so it’s not really a great comparison. A better comparison would be to see the attrition rate of high-end Android users (ICS and higher) compared to iPhone users.

    • MikeO3

      I tend to agree with you that IOS users become trapped into the ecosystem and would stand to loose their monetary (and time) investments if switching platforms. I switched from Apple to Android because I felt trapped by limitations in HW platforms and the fact that the platforms are run like dictatorship with a though shalt do as I say attitude. I am not an App junky so for me it was very easy and didn’t cost me anything in lost app investments.

    • Saumya

      @ roy chi

      Have you tried using an Android without any service from Google? Of course its not impossible, but Not easy, is it? Similarly you can have a nn-Apple ecosystem iPhone.

      Google has a much larger ecosystem than Apple. Heck, they even make glasses.

      Why people choose certain products and brands is a very complex mixture of rational and emotional benefits. Difficult to analyse by data alone. You also need to understand people’s psychology, sociology etc.

      Another thing: most people use phones as clothes, not really as computers, yet. (And I dont mean those miniscule percentage who are the geeky valley types whose lives depend and revolve around highly customized smartphones. They are really irrelevant for a sales team). What I mean is, after x amount of usage, people tend to get fatigued. They then want to try the next trendy thing. I have noticed this in my marketing and branding researches. The Pps that most peope use are free anyway (basic social media apps). If you bought games, you get tired of them too, after a year or so.

      So if a phone brand is able to keep its marketing hype high, it will continue to get buyers.

    • Anthony Ondre

      I would tend to agree with the assessment of being harder to leave because of the ecosystem but not “trapped” any more than the high quality of Infiniti “trapped” me into buying another one.

      The issue is that you buy much more than just an iPhone with Apple. You buy entry into a fast and rich ecosystem that is so compelling that others simply cannot compete.

      I use my iPad Mini as a phone all the time. Mind you I would not carry it in my pocket as others might get suspicious of my good mood. (is that a Galaxy in your pocket or are you happy to see me?) I see absolutely no advantage in Android and see so many down sides (97% of all mobile viruses are on Android, rest on Symbian, none on iPhone…) that Android is more of a hobby than a tool… I will pass thank you as like my cars, they need to work, not to demand maintenance, care feeding and pampering.

  5. FrankM

    This mobile OS loyalty survey is missing a key component: tablet ownership.

    It’s easy to switch OSes when you will still be able to use your old apps on another device. Or are you more likely to choose you new cellphone based on your current tablet?

    • Frank A NYC

      excellent point. I switched from an iphone 4 to a Nexus 4 (mainly for screen size) but I am staicking with my 3 gen ipad not matter what. I may try windows phone next as I am impressed with what I am seeing from Nokia. I’m not an app hoarder and have few must have apps, so wp8 would work for me.

    • stormyparis

      That applies differently for Android users though: I have a serviceable $200 Android phablet (Cubot A6589) and a $130 7″ tablet (Aninol Venus). That’s pocket change to pay for access to apps.

      In the Apple world OTOH, devices are a lot more expensive.

  6. I read and summarize table 3 as, roughly 1/3 of all Android users (regardless of manufacturer) switch to Apple for their next phone.

    Only 11% went from Apple to Samsung… (possibly due to phablet form factor).

    Thanks Erica

  7. oldman60

    I have a nexus 4 and I love it. It is amazing what you can do with an stock Android phone. I prefer Android 4.2.2 to iOS 6 but I like Apple hardware. This said, I will buy a Nexus 5.

  8. Will White

    Very interesting … this would seem to imply that a lot of Android users are dissatisfied with their phone and so vulnerable to a switch … most of those going to another Android device, but there is no standout Android device for loyalty. Could be user seeking the bigger or better phone with newer features and no brand loyalty, or it could be users are just not satisfied with Android. Some of these dissatisfied users may switch to Apple and many others may be prejudiced against apple for a variety of reasons.

    I know this, my wife switched from iPhone to Galaxy S3 because she just can’t see the smaller screen on the iphone (getting old sucks!) … but she hates the S3. She would switch back in a second if Apple had a device with a comparable screen size.

    • Android is Android… you have so many options that will still run the apps you’re used to, It’s not a matter of dissatisfaction at all for most of us; it just makes sense to pick the one that suits you best at the time, not a matter of loyalty to one particular manufacturer. If you want to get off the iPhone bandwagon, though, you need to go to another entire ecosystem.

    • stormyparis

      Indeed, it has nothing to do with dissatisfaction, but of having the ability to choose amongst a number of devices. I was extremely satisfied with my Galaxy Note (v1), but went with Huawei for the price and screen size when I wanted to upgrade. I still regard Samsung very highly, and will gladly go back to them if/when they release something in the 6-6.5″ range.. I missed to Galaxy Mega by a month, I’m slightly regretting that.