John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

iPhone Leads Android in Smartphone Loyalty

Owners of iPhones like their handsets more than Android owners like theirs.

That’s the gist of some new research from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) which just finished analyzing four quarters worth of smartphone platform loyalty surveys collected between July 2012 and June 2013. According to CIRP’s data, 81 percent of existing iPhone users purchased another iPhone during the 12 month period surveyed. Meanwhile, 68 percent of existing Android smartphone users bought another Android device. Not a vast gulf between the two platforms — just a 13 percent difference, but significant when considered with a second metric CIRP analyzed — the rate at which iPhone users switched to Android, and vice versa.

During the period CIRP surveyed, nearly three times as many Android handset users switched to iPhone as iPhone users switched to Android. Between July 2012 and June 2013, iPhone poached 20 percent of its users from Android, while Android captured just seven percent of its users from iPhone.

Interesting asymmetry there — potentially significant, too. CIRP’s data seems to suggest that not only are Android users more likely to switch to iPhone, they’re more likely to continue buying iPhones once they’ve done so. (Caveat: This is my inference. CIRP hasn’t collected data on Android users who both switched to iPhone in the past year and also bought another iPhone after they switched to their first iPhone.)

So, broadly, iPhone owners are more loyal than their Android counterparts. Why?

CIRP co-founder Josh Lowitz has a few ideas.

“We think loyalty is product of comfort with a platform that meets a consumer’s needs, and the belief that platform will continue to meet their needs better than any other,” Lowitz told AllThingsD. “For a ‘loyal’ iOS user, there is no question, the next iPhone will create a satisfying ownership experience. For a ‘loyal’ Android user, there is uncertainty about brand switching and the different features that each manufacturer brings, so even a loyal Android user faces an open market with a new set of decisions.”

And, for the loyal Android user, that uncertainty may bubble up every time a new marquee phone hits the market. Android seems to get a new flagship device every few months. The latest Samsung Galaxy. The Nexus 4. The Moto X. In contrast, Apple typically launches just one new iPhone each year (2013 will be the exception).

So, could it be that the proliferation of available Android handsets discourages brand loyalty and, by extension, undermines loyalty to Android as a platform? Probably not, says CIRP.

“The fragmentation among Android devices has two sides to it,” CIRP co-founder Michael Levin explained. “It does create an environment where buyers are less loyal generally, at least to a brand of phone, which probably does extend to operating system to an extent. Yet it also allows buyers to move among hardware brands,and yet stay within the Android ecosystem.”

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