Apple and Android's churn immunity

Consumers appear to be picking a side in the ongoing smartphone wars. They're upgrading to either an Android or Apple phone, and once they do they're unlikely to switch between the brands.

Apple and Google are great at keeping customers hooked to their products. But as Horace Deidu points ou when the smartphone market becomes saturated the tech giants will have to shift to a strategy that focuses on stealing their competitors user base. 

In the past 24 months 50 million Americans became Android phone users, according to data from comScore. In the same time frame Apple added 24 million iPhone users. As I have mentioned earlier it would be unwise to consider this data in isolation. Consider the following graph showing the net change in users in the US.

Android and iPhone grew mostly at the expense of non-smartphone users. The BlackBerry lost 8.1 million users and all the others only lost about 4.5 million.

With penetration at 50 per cent it’s still impressive that there is so little 'churn' between platforms. In fact, measuring churn as the net platform user loss as a per cent of all smartphone users, we get something less than one per cent per month.

The smartphone competition is still primarily with non-consumption.

That will change at some point when smartphone penetration (shown below) will begin to saturate. The basis of competition will have to shift from converting non-smart users to converting users of other platforms while maintaining one’s own user base.

The market has not experienced this sort of rivalry on a wide scale. The defections of BlackBerry and Symbian users are relatively rare events. 

Horace Dediu is founder and managing director of Asymco, a Helsinki-based app developer/industry analysis advisory firm. You can find his blog here.