The Yankee Group's Carl Howe has some bad news for Google, Samsung, and the rest of the Android ecosystem. The Group published the results of a survey that found more than twice as many smartphone owners intend to buy iPhones, and Mr. Howe predicted based on this buyer intent, iPhone will eclipse Android by 2016.
The survey also found that three times as many Android owners intend to switch to iPhone than the other way around, with 6 percent of iPhone owners planning on buying an Android device and 18 percent of Android owners planning on buying an iPhone. It's that customer loyalty that gives Apple the long-term edge, according to the report.
"Apple’s 'black hole' ecosystem captures subscribers who never leave, while Android smartphones are losing one out of every six customers to other manufacturers," Mr. Howe wrote. "These trends will drive Apple ownership well past Android ownership by 2015 and will reinforce Apple’s dominance in tablets as well."
This has the unfortunate side effect of running contrary to the prevailing pundit position that Apple is doomed, fading fast, and floundering, but Mr. Howe apparently didn't bother letting that punditry get in the way of his survey results.
"Despite press excitement about Samsung," he wrote, "Apple continues to gain share against all Android devices. While Samsung may have garnered huge press attention from its Galaxy S IV announcement, consumer intent to buy Samsung phones is less than half that of iPhones in the U.S. In fact, iPhone intent to buy is statistically tied with the intent to buy all Android phones combined."
At the same time, recent data from IDC shows that Apple's iPhone lost significant market share in the March quarter, as competitors like Samsung outgrew Apple. IDC said that Apple had 17.3 percent market share with 37.4 million iPhones sold, compared to the year ago quarter when 35.1 million iPhone sales was good enough for 23 percent share.
That puts the data on the ground at odds with The Yankee Group's survey, at least for the near term, and it remains to be seen how well this survey translates to what consumers actually do. Changewave Research, for instance, has found for many years that a majority of survey respondents planned on buying an iPhone over other platforms, yet Android has grown to reign supreme, especially at the low end.
Then again, there's that whole usage thing. Android owners don't do anything with their devices, at least not compared to iPhone owners. They don't shop with their tablets, they don't download apps, they certainly don't pay for apps. Heck, they don't even do much surfing. We've been trying to understand this gap since it first became apparent.
The usage gap is consistent with the survey's results. Apple consistently has the highest customer satisfaction rates, so it makes sense that this survey finds that iPhone owners are going to stick with iPhone, accounting for that black hole Mr. Howe described.
To that end, even with pundits screaming about how bad it is that Apple doesn't have a 5-inch smartphone/phablet, Apple was still the number two vendor in the March quarter, according to IDC. That's a very salient piece of information that the Apple haters and fandroids gloss over when touting the wonders of their megaphones and how it demonstrates the supremacy of Android.
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