Conflicting Data

on January 7, 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.