Android to Apple brand loyalty

In today’s day and age, smartphones have become absolutely fundamental to our way of life, so much so that our smartphones have basically become an extension of our personalities. And just like personalities, different people appreciate different smartphone designs and features. Nowhere is this more apparent than in one’s choice of mobile OS.

Most people either are Google Android enthusiasts or hardcore Apple iOS fans. Both sets of fans have traditionally been fiercely loyal to their own platforms, but new data from Merrill Lynch Global Research seems to suggest that a sizeable number of Android fans may soon be defecting to the iPhone’s greener pastures.

Apple Brand Loyalty: 70% iPhone Users Decided to Stick

The data was gathered by surveying over 32,000 smartphone users with a variety of different devices. According to the data, Apple has by far the best brand loyalty among its user-base, with 70% of Apple users preferring to buy their next smartphone from Apple again. In a distant second place come Huawei, with 54% of their customers preferring to buy a Huawei smartphone again. Android heavyweight Samsung came in at third with 53% user loyalty.

Only about 42% of Google Pixel users preferred to buy their next smartphone from Google again. This comes as somewhat of a surprise considering Google markets the Pixel phones as the most premium Android experience available.

So it would seem that Android users are not as loyal as one would think. The data also seems to suggest that the reason for this fall in customer loyalty is the appeal of Apple’s iPhone.

Besides the brand currently under their use, Apple was found to be the next smartphone of choice for most Android users. In fact, 25% of HTC smartphone users are likely to buy an iPhone next. This is nearly as high as the 34% who intended to buy an HTC smartphone again. Even among the user-base of Samsung, Apple’s biggest rival, 19% preferred the iPhone for their next smartphone purchase. No other brand besides Apple enjoys this level of popularity and appeal in the Android user demographic.

Surprisingly, Huawei came in at a very distant second, enjoying a decent amount of popularity among existing Vivo, Xiaomi, ZTE, Oppo users. It was also the second choice smartphone for current Apple users, with 5% of iPhone owners looking to buy a Huawei smartphone next. This is even marginally higher than the 4% of iPhone users looking to buy a Samsung next.

Does this mean that we can expect a mass exodus of Android users jumping ship to iOS? Not necessarily.

According to IDC, Apple controlled 12.1% of the smartphone market share in Q2 2018, which is only marginally higher than their 11.8% market share in Q2 2017. One explanation for this is that the data in the Merril Lynch report does not take into account smartphone price tiers and it’s correlation with desirability. Higher end premium smartphones are naturally more desirable and appealing to prospective buyers. Apple’s portfolio is definitely on the higher end of the price spectrum, and most of their devices can be considered premium.

On the other hand, Android devices come in plenty of different flavours ranging from sub $100 to $800+. A user who currently owns a lower end Android is more likely to desire a higher end Apple device compared to someone using a premium Android device. This theory is also consistent with a 2015 report by Ericsson, which concluded that “the majority of smartphone users remain loyal to their operating system“, and that “owners of high-end models were much more likely to select a new model in the same series from the same vendor than users of lower-end models.”

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