In the battle for smartphone supremacy, there are really only two big monsters on the block – iPhone and Android. They are, effectively, the Godzilla and Mecha-Godzilla of the wireless market. For years, the competitors battled toe-to-toe, with one gaining an advantage, then the other closing the gap.
Lately though, that trend has swung in one direction … and it seems to be staying that way. Millions of Android owners are switching over to the iPhone, and the reality presents a major tech PR problem for Android manufacturers.
In real numbers last quarter, upwards of 30 percent of new iPhone purchasers previously owned a smartphone running the Android OS. That represents an approximate number of ten million units. That’s a big number, but the bigger problem is this: when Apple gets a customer, they keep a customer.
It doesn’t really matter what bells and whistles Android tries to use to entice an iPhone owner. They get accustomed to their phone and the easy way it connects to pretty much everything else they own. If and when they do switch, the transition feels awkward, and uncomfortable.
Android phones never really work “right” in the hands of a former iPhone user. Everything just feels a bit off. Sure, a small percentage might be happy with that, or they must have an Android handset for some reason. But, if they don’t, the likelihood of a switch back to iPhone is statistically significant.
Even more significant, in Q4 of 2014, more than 80 percent of the iPhones sold went to existing smartphone owners. Many of those were not iPhone users. When you look at the numbers across the last year, a definite trend emerges. More people shop iPhone and find what they want, whether they want to replace an existing iPhone or converting from an Android model.
Of course, the numbers only point out the problem. They do nothing to solve it. For that, Android marketers need to find a way to collectively compete against iPhone. That first step will be difficult. Unlike the iPhone, which differs in little more than size and amount of memory, the Android market consists of a myriad of handsets of various style and capability. Sure, the OS is primarily the same, but each of these models also compete against other models running the same OS.
As a result, any consumer PR competition immediately creates a problem of too many options. Consumers look at all the Androids, which are the same but also different. Then they look at the iPhone, which offers comforting sameness.
Consumers might say they want choices … but they never want too many. When it comes down to that, they choose the iPhone for the same reason diners pick the burger or Cobb salad off an elaborate menu. It’s easier, and you know what you’re getting.