Robert Triggs / Android Authority
The US smartphone market has hit some kind of balance over the past couple of years. In the United States, as many people now buy Apple’s iOS devices as they buy Google Android devices, giving each platform roughly 50% of the market. It was not so before; The scales have been tilted in favor of iOS recently, allowing it to steal ground from Android.
What is behind the slow erosion of Android’s market share in the United States? Loyalty, according to new data from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.
Small numbers make a big difference
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
As recently as 2017, Android held about two-thirds of the U.S. smartphone market, according to CIRP research, leaving iOS with about one-third of the market. At that time, the Android platform enjoyed a loyalty rate of around 91%, while the loyalty rate of iOS was around 86%. This means that 91 out of 100 Android device owners have stuck with the platform when upgrading their phones. In the past four years, loyalty to the Android platform has changed very little in the United States. Meanwhile, loyalty to iOS has slowly increased.
“Loyalty and switching help explain part of the shift in the share of new phone activations, with iOS gaining loyalty in a market with minimal switching,” said Mike Levin, CIRP partner and co-founder. “In the most recent quarter, Apple had a loyalty advantage, with 93% of former iPhone owners switching to a new iPhone, compared to 88% of Android owners staying with Android. Over several years, iOS has gained around five loyalty percentage points, while Android has remained stable. This has allowed Apple to steadily increase the iOS share of new smartphone activations.
The loyalty of Android users has remained largely unchanged.
In other words, the loyalty of Android users has remained virtually unchanged, while the loyalty of iOS users has increased. Despite the small change in the numbers, the inevitable was bound to happen – a 50/50 market split in the United States.
CIRP expanded on these numbers by interviewing 500 people who activated a new phone between April and June 2021. This sample may be a bit small, but CIRP’s overall market share findings match those of other companies. of research. For example, Counterpoint data shows that iOS’s share of the US market is around 50% over the past year, although it has fluctuated quite sharply from quarter to quarter.
Related: The best Android phones
Brands tell a different story
David Imel / Android Authority
Where data from CIRP shows us that loyalty to Android, in general, has remained virtually unchanged, data from SellCell says otherwise. SellCell recently surveyed some 5,000 US residents on their mobile devices and made some interesting findings regarding individual brands.
For starters, Apple brand loyalty is very high at 92%, an improvement of 1.5 percentage points from Apple brand loyalty two years ago. This corresponds to CIRP data. Over the same two-year period, however, Samsung saw its brand loyalty drop from 85.7% to 74%. This means that more than one in four Samsung users said they plan to buy a different brand of device during the next upgrade. More tellingly, 53% of Samsung defectors said they would upgrade to an iPhone.
Other Android brands have also lost their loyalty. Google Pixel loyalty has fallen off a cliff, from 84% in 2019 to 65.2% in 2021. Motorola and LG have done much worse, with 71% and 62.6% of owners saying they plan to change brands when upgrading.
Unfortunately, CIRP and SellCell data is limited to US consumers; they didn’t survey people outside of the United States.
See also: 8 things iOS does better than Android
Why have loyalties changed?
Luke Pollack / Android Authority
The more interesting question here is not which brand or platform has retained the most loyalty, but rather why the loyalties have changed at all.
A reason? Privacy. SellCell found that 31.5% of those surveyed were planning to switch from Samsung to an iPhone due to privacy concerns. Apple has stepped up privacy rhetoric in recent years, of course. Another 25.2% of defectors said they would leave Samsung because of the better value offered by other brands.
Not all iPhone owners are happy and some are actually switching to other brands. Some 38% of iPhone owners cited better technology from other brands as reasons to stray, with 26.4% preferring other brands’ design language and 12.9% opting for newer features over the latest Android devices.
But the main reason why people stick to their brand of smartphone? Lockdown of the ecosystem and fear of change.
Apple may have enjoyed a slight increase in loyalty in the United States in recent years, but that hasn’t improved its global image. Apple’s iOS held 15-17% of the global smartphone market in the first quarter of 2021, depending on figures from the analyst firm you choose to believe. With an approximate market share of 85%, Android clearly dominates over iOS on a global scale, and it is evident that Android users are a loyal bunch over time.