The days of smartphone OS switching – from Android to iOS and vice versa – are all but over according to new research from CIRP.

CIRP (Consumer Intelligence Research Partners) found that as of September 2018 Android loyalty is now at 92% outstripping iOS at 89%. There are lots of reasons but primarily that Android O and P have come of age as a secure and stable operating system (OS) and people are happy with it. Smartphone OS switching is all but over.

Mike Levin, Partner and Co-Founder of CIRP said

Loyalty has crept up for both iOS and Android in the past two years, to the highest levels we’ve seen. Basically, For the past three years, around 90% of US smartphone users remain with their same operating system when they buy a new smartphone.

Smartphone OS switching

Why is smartphone OS switching over?

In Apple’s case the ecosystem is a closed-loop – once you are in the tent, you have few options to leave. Investment in things like iTunes music, movies, and apps, iMessage and iCloud are integral to iOS and not as portable. You lose too much of the investment by defecting to Android.

So that makes me wonder if Apple CEO Tim Cook is drinking too much Kool-Aid when he said about the iPhone X:

iPhone revenue was up 20% year-over-year, with the active iPhone install base growing by double digits thanks to ‘switchers,’ first-time smartphone buyers, and existing customers.

In Android’s case much of its investment is open – Apps, Spotify, YouTube, and other content providers – is transferrable to iOS.

No, it is simply a case of users growing to like the operating system and the huge range of hardware devices it supports – read choice. And customer satisfaction with brands is very high with Samsung and Apple neck-and-neck according to JD Power ratings.

No more Smartphone OS switching. It is now one or the other

People are largely happy now. You are either in the Apple orchard or Android camp. Both have fantastic hardware and the OS have uncannily similar functionality.

Apple’s business model is a walled-garden. Its closed ecosystem means lock-in or lose the investment. Apple’s focus is now to make more from its users. The business model has worked extremely well for its shareholders.

So long as it meets the needs of Apple aficionados the company will prosper. Apple was after all the first trillion-dollar company with iPhones accounting for 80+% of its sales. All on the backs of loyal Apple users.

But we see a gradual revival of the ‘open-source’ movement where choice is the driving factor. Windows is an example. It is now 87.56% of all desktops and growing where Mac has declined to 9.52%. Microsoft makes Surface and Apple makes Mac, but it is the dozens of Windows OEMs that reinforce the open source definition. People like choice and the value that it can bring.

OS Market share

Android global market share is now roughly 85% to iOS at 14.5%. There are fewer new users, and lots of baby boomers who can afford iPhones are starting to push up roses. The market share and size is relatively stable and saturated for now.

Interestingly in 2018 Australians prefer iOS at 50.54% but that is down from 59.1% in 2017. iOS has a market share lead (over 50%) in the US, UK, Sweden, Japan, Canada, and Ireland.

Smartphone OS switching

For the rest of the world Android rules.

IDC says there is a definite move by many OEMs to slowly migrate their user base upstream. Overall this is a positive sign that consumers are seeing the benefits of moving to a slightly more premium device. A broader range of colours, screen sizes, features, cameras, and brands are a large catalyst for this movement.

But in the Android world, at least in Australia, there is enormous price competition in the value segment. You had to spend say, $799 to get a decent device. Now that is down to around $450!