Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) has released its analysis of the results from its research on mobile phone operating systems for the calendar quarter that ended June 30. And it finds that Apple’s iOS “surged.”
The analysis features findings about consumer trends in mobile phone activations from April-June 2021 for Apple and Alphabet. CIRP estimates for customers that acquired a new phone in the year ending this quarter, Google Android and Apple iOS each had 50% of the new activations.
“Apple iOS and Google Android are now roughly at parity in terms of share of buyers,” said Josh Lowitz, CIRP partner and co-founder. “For several years Android smartphones had a significant edge, with over 60% of customers opting for an Android phone in most quarters. In the past couple of years, though, iOS has closed the gap, and now splits the market with Android.”
Apple’s iOS share of new smartphone activations climbed from 2017 to 2020, staying at that peak level for another year. In the most recent quarter, Apple’s iOS experienced greater levels of loyalty compared to Google’s Android. 93% of Apple customers remained with iOS, while 7% switched to Android. Google had a higher switching rate, with 12% of its customers switching to iOS, and 88% remaining with Android.
“Loyalty and switching help explain some of the change in share of new phone activations, with iOS gaining loyalty in a market with minimal switching,” said Mike Levin, CIRP partner and co-founder. “In the most recent quarter, Apple had an edge in loyalty, with 93% of prior iPhone owners upgrading to a new iPhone, compared to 88% of Android owners staying with Android. Over several years, iOS gained about five percentage points in loyalty, while Android remained flat. This allowed Apple to steadily increase the iOS share of new smartphone activations.”
CIRP says that both Android and iOS have enjoyed significant loyalty in the past several years. Android loyalty has varied slightly, within a narrow range of 90-93% in the past four years (Chart 2). Apple iOS loyalty has increased gradually in past four years, from a low of 86% in early 2018 to 93% in the most recent June 2021 quarter.
CIRP bases its findings on its survey of 500 US customers that activated a new or used phone in the April-June 2021 period.