Conflicting Data

by Ben Bajarin   |   January 7th, 2013

As an analyst I continually come across data. Much of it is often conflicting and discerning what is an accurate reflection of the market is not always easy. Such data has come out today that I think is fascinating due to its suggestions either way if true.

Venture Beat published an article referencing an Accenture study which stated that 66% of phone, tablet owners don’t really care if they run iOS, Android, or Windows. Venture Beat quoted Kumu Puri, a managing director at Accenture saying:

“Overall, our survey found there is not widespread loyalty among consumers about operating systems used on their smartphones, tablets and PCs,”

Really, they don’t care at all? I find it extremely hard to believe. That’s like saying the vast majority of consumers don’t care what care they drive, what clothes they wear, what brands they support, etc. If this is true then RIM, Windows Phone, and Tizen all have a viable shot in the market. As should have Palm with the Pre. The bottom line is personal preference matters and software is a part of that preference.

Yet we have Kantar releasing stats today that share AT&T (the original exclusive iPhone carrier with Apple) had half (51.7%) of their iPhone user base upgrading to a newer iPhone.

66% are saying they are not loyal yet 51.7 percent of AT&T’s iPhone subscribers updated to the newer iPhone. Personally I believe there is much more platform loyalty, particularly to iOS than the Accenture survey is showing. My experience from surveys is that you can get consumers to say whatever you want if you ask the question the right way. This is why we don’t do them anymore and instead focus on observational research crossed with real world market patterns.

The Accenture survey sounds like it was targeted at a much more mature and early adopter user base. Market behavior data we have of the early and late majority (a market that is massively larger than the early adopter market) validates our conviction that loyalty is there. Also it shows there is more loyalty to iOS than any other platform.

While I am on the subject I want to point something else interesting out about the Kantar data and it relates to Verizon. According to their data:

“First-time smartphone buyers upgrading to an iPhone led to iOS becoming Verizon’s top selling OS for the first time. Verizon, who has the largest featurephone user base, saw 44% of their featurephone user base upgrade to an iPhone, compared to 38% of AT&T’s featurephone user base.”

iOS is already among AT&T’s top selling smartphone platform, with over 50% staying loyal and they have had it for over five years. Verizon is going on its third year selling the iPhone and it is now their top selling smartphone. Could that with Verizon’s sizably larger feature phone base and the data point that most upgraders from feature phones to smartphones chose the iPhone highlights the headroom still available in the US for the iPhone. I also believe Verizon’s iPhone customers will show similar loyalty patters as AT&T’s. As iPhone subsidies get stronger in other parts of the world my gut is that similar patters will emerge.

All in all real world market habits don’t validate Accenture’s study in my opinion but that’s just my .2c.

Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research. He is a husband, father, gadget enthusiast, trend spotter, early adopter and hobby farmer. Full Bio
  • Defendor

    As with any survey, subtle changes in the question have profound effects on the results.

    Ask them which phone they think they will buy next, Most iPhone users will say the next iPhone.

    http://bgr.com/2011/09/22/ubs-iphones-89-retention-rate-crushes-competition-next-closest-is-htc-at-39/

    Ask them more nebulous questions about loyalty to ecosystems and operating system and you get nebulous results.

    • jfutral

      This is really a psychology study more than it is a market study. The questions asked have more to do with how the people perceive themselves and how they want to be perceived. In other words they don’t want to be seen as snobs and don’t believe they are. They probably associate brand “loyalty” as snobbery. I guarantee each person has a very different “innovative” bar and definition (in reference to that question) that would affect their “loyalty”. You are absolutely correct that the questions are very nebulous and highly subject to interpretation. If someone thinks this study has any solid information then they do not understand the post-modern world we live in.

      Joe

  • jfutral

    Two things–talk is cheap and follow the money.

    Bonus thing. Also it isn’t just how the question was asked, it is also how the data is framed. What exactly do they mean by “don’t care”?:
    -the person is not really up on the other OS’s and they happy enough with what they have, they don’t care to find out?
    -the person is open minded enough to consider other options if suddenly what they have isn’t doing the job?
    -the person is so unaware of what they just dropped two hundred dollar son and committed to a two year contract that such a person should not really be let out of their house?
    -the words were chosen by the organization to imply an Apple issue thus ensuring making headlines?

    Words are power. Choose wisely.

    Joe

    • pawhite524

      Excellent points, all. Mark Twain is quoted as saying, “Words are important. There is a difference between being struck by lightning and being struck by lightning bugs!”

  • Rich

    Consumers obviously do care what car they drive, what clothes they wear, what brands they support, so I think Accenture’s conclusion is silly. Some people have so much faith in *data* that if the data said the sun was shining, they would ignore someone who came in from outside with a wet umbrella.

  • capnbob67

    Ben,

    Hedging may be good in the commodity markets, but it shouldn’t be a requirement in reporting. Fact is fact.
    “iOS is already among AT&T’s top selling smartphone platform”

    NO. It IS AT&Ts top selling smartphone platform. Always has been, no evidence that it won’t be in the future. It dominates new sales and installed base, obviously. At Verizon it is half of all new smartphone sales and the same at Sprint. They have been selling Androids for longer (although at lower volumes) so the install base is probably tilted that way but that will be a factor of underlying platform switching vs. dumphone conversions, data we don’t have.

    I agree with the premise of the article that the Accenture data looks like BS but you might also want to add the data on customer satisfaction to the argument, by brand/OS (80s for iOS, 60s for Android), and analyze the source data a little more since It is very unclear where the 66% comes from. The chart you added above says that only 20% of users neither knew nor cared what OS they used. 66% of what? What is that split by OS – 90% Android?

    You may not have the answers but it would be good to set the unanswered questions.