Unpacked: iPhone Sentiment from Android and Windows Phone Users

I recently conducted a study trying to understand smartphone platform loyalty. My goal was to seek out some insights on what keeps people with a platform and what are the catalysts to make them switch to another platform. A few very interesting things stood out.

As I often do with surveys, the types of answers you give take you to different sets of questions. So in this study, those who said they had an iPhone got separate questions from those who said they owned an Android phone, a Blackberry, or a Windows Phone. My goal for each user base was to understand what kept them there, if they had ever considered switching to another platform and, if so, why. Two questions in particular were intentionally placed to measure hostility toward Apple from each non-iPhone base. Below are the question and the results.

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A few observations. First I’m comparing like questions, in this case, two specific ones. What we observe is the key stronger sentiments from both Android owners and iPhone owners. In the case of Android consumers, the “Apple is not as open” choice was the second highest reason chosen as a barrier to switching. The first was “iPhones are too expensive.” Given what we know of some of the more passionate Android users, I thought the “will never buy anything from Apple” sentiment was going to be higher but that is not a hostile view shared by mainstream consumers.

However, with Windows Phone users it was a different story. The “I’ll never buy anything from Apple” ranked higher in total percentage from Windows Phone users than it did with Android users. While this 20% of “hostile” Windows Phone user sentiment was higher by these owners than by Android owners, the percentage of respondents who said they plan to switch to Android or to iPhone from the Windows Phone user base dominated the percentages of answers.

We know the Windows Phone market is not that large. But I did find the stronger hostility of their base toward Apple intriguing, although somewhat understandable when you think about the type of consumer who purchases a Windows Phone and the history between Apple and Microsoft.

The openness argument is common of Android owners and, considering it was as high as it was in this representative mainstream sample, it is certainly still there. However, cost was the biggest inhibitor as indicated by Android owners in our panel. Showing the price sensitive nature of most Android users in the market.

It was interesting to see the different nuances of sentiment toward iPhones from both the Android owners and Windows Phone owners and how some animosity from the PC era battles has carried over into mobile.

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Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research 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 and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio

17 thoughts on “Unpacked: iPhone Sentiment from Android and Windows Phone Users”

  1. The people who hate Apple subculture is probably larger than the people who love Apple subculture. Why? I’ll never know, but it’s fun to see them troll each other online as if it matters.

    1. Yep. And as the research proved, and we inherently knew, that sentiment represents the minority not the majority.

    2. I think it really hinders the value of online discussions myself. A site like BGR becomes far less interesting because of all the trolling in the comments section.

  2. It’s a fact that I’m not in the “I’ll never buy anything from Apple” crowd. I own all types of Apple devices, except for an iPhone (any longer).

    It would be interesting to know what fraction of the “I’ll never…” group are there because of the “openness” issues. Were both questions available to be answered or they had to choose just one?

    1. Yes it was multiple choice. I honestly expected there to me more people in the Android camp who said they would never buy anything from Apple. But this panel of mine is a much more mainstream panel so very little techie skew.

      1. That alone is an interesting observation. Since this is a non-techie panel. Are Android users simply not as “brand susceptible”? In which case, it’s price, or a different perceived value?

        1. Yes I think you caught in there that I said price was the most selected option as to why they picked their device and why they are not considering the iPhone for purchase. I did also ask repurchase intent and asked which brand they currently owned so I could see which brands have strong repurchase intent and which ones don’t. Exactly your point there is very little brand loyalty. I inherently thought this was true but nice to see hard data on it.

          1. Which is also consistent with a $800+ non-iPhone, just to clarify my “perceived value” comment.

          2. Correct. A value-conscious buyer is one profile. The other is the tech laggard or total non-techie who doesn’t want the headache of tech and has never been a heavy user who leans Android. I also have a more techie skew panel with more young folks and people are are more tech savvy in general and they certainly lean more iPhone.

          3. I can see the non-tech customer in both camps. A main aspect of Apple’s value proposition is ease of use by non-techies after all.

          4. In US /UK yes due to more mature consumer mentality. Other regions not so much both because of price and lack of maturity in all things tech. I’m fairly sure iOS has either caught or surpassed Android in US in terms of active installed base. Only market with this dynamic.

          5. Frankly, that was a long time ago. Android’s back and home buttons for example, are killer features for the technoramus.

          6. It’s hard to stick with a brand when their positioning evolves so quickly.

            2 years ago Samsung’s S5 flagships were ugly but feature-perfect (µSD, wireless charging, water resistant, removable+solid battery, FM radio, plus the mainstream stuff), last year the S6s were beautiful but grossly feature-incomplete (none of the above except wireless charging), this year they are beautiful and mostly feature-complete (missing FM and removable battery).

            Ditto Huawei, the Mate line used to be midrange, now it’s designed+specced+priced flagship.

            It’s hard to commit in such a fluid field. Plus 2 years ago flagships were required if you wanted good pictures, good looks, good battery, and good reactivity, especially if you wanted all of that at the same time. Since last year, midrangers deliver that too, except good low-light pics.

            But that’s me, I’m feature and value oriented. What are the typologies of smartphone buyers ? I’d guess different buyers are focused, with some crosstalk, on
            – price

            – fashion
            – design (not the same as fashion: looks/functionality vs herd behaviour)
            – value (not the same as price: I’m OK with spending a bit more to get a lot more, I’m not OK with spending a bit less to get a lot less)

            – features

            – brand (not as in “I want that brand”, but as in “I want something that’s identifiable as a brand”, I assume there’s a “because I’m well worth it” subtext… I’m still irked at recently having someone turn down my Lenovo tablet reco for a vastly inferior Samsung, apparently Lenovo is not a brand, ah, the rubes ^^)

  3. Why the weirdly different scales on the graphs and not starting from 0%? Makes it misleading if you aren’t paying close attention.

    1. I went back and forth on this, but ultimately it was actually more misleading when I had them both at 4 bars. Since the size of the smaller bar was nearly the same but two completely different percentages. So I was hoping the change in bars made people look at the percentage to actually see the different number not just the size.

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