iOS nips at Android’s heels in user loyalty


iPhone Loyalty
Apple fanboys get a bad name, but Android users are less likely to switch.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Americans are far less likely to switch between an iPhone and an Android smartphone than they once were. A new study shows that virtually all users of both types have little interest in moving to the other team.

Loyalty to Android is just slightly stronger than it is to iOS. Nevertheless, more people are switching away from Google’s operating system than they are Apple’s.

Consumer Intelligence Research Partners studied the numbers of customers that remained with each operating system when activating a new phone in 2017. It found that Android has a 91 percent loyalty rate, compared to 86 percent for iOS.

“Loyalty is as high as we’ve ever seen,” said Mike Levin, a CIRP co-founder. “Loyalty for both Android and iOS increased in 2015 and into 2016, when it leveled off for both operating systems.”

iPhone loyalty rate versus Android

iPhone Loyalty
iPhone loyalty is just a touch behind Android loyalty.
Photo: Consumer Intelligence Research Partners

Comparisons between the iPhone X and the Samsung Galaxy S9 began pouring out after the flagship Android device was announced last week, but it seems the point is rather moot as most people aren’t seriously considering the alternatives.

“With only two mobile operating systems at this point, it appears users now pick one, learn it, invest in apps and storage, and stick with it,” said Levin.

Switching critical to Apple and Google

CIRP pointed out in its report that nearly everyone in the United States who is going to buy a smartphone already has one. That makes loyalty important to handset-makers because growing their customer base requires convincing people to switch away from a rival, while their own customers must be persuaded to stick with them.

Although people remain just a hair more loyal to Android, the total number of people moving to iPhone is greater.

Josh Lowitz, another CIRP co-founder, explained. “The rate of switching between Android and iOS is different than the absolute number of users that switch between the two operating systems,” Lowitz said. “We know Android has a larger base of users than iOS, and because of that larger base, the absolute number of users that switch to iOS from Android is as large or larger than the absolute number of users that switch to Android from iOS.”