Angry Android Users Defecting To Apple?
Apple CEO Tim Cook says disaffected Android users bought 30% of the iPhones sold during Apple’s 4th fiscal quarter. That’s the highest rate of Android “switchers” ever, said Cook. Apple reported sales of 48 million iPhones during the quarter, so 14 million went to Android switchers. Read on for the interesting back story…
Why Are Android Users Unhappy?
Unlike Cook, I won’t assume that all of those new customers tossed their Android phones in the trash. But a pretty high percentage of them probably did renounce Android for iOS. The first question other Android users should ask is, “Why are Android users switching to Apple?”
The bigger screens in the latest iPhones may be a factor. As users have come to depend on smartphones for more visual applications, they’re buying the biggest screens their hands and budgets can handle. Cook noted in the same call that switchers’ share of iPhone sales has been growing steadily since the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus debuted earlier this year.
But bigger screens are just an equalizer for Apple, not a compelling reason to switch from Android. The Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge are second to the latest iPhones in sales; they have 5.1-inch screens, and the Galaxy S6 Edge+ has a 5.7-inch screen. The biggest Android smartphones all have 7-inch screens; anything bigger is usually called a tablet. The reasons people want out of Android are in the Android ecosystem itself.
The complexity of the Android ecosystem is a major source of user disgruntlement. It leads to a confusing number of choices and to incredibly slow operating system update cycles. Both foster security vulnerabilities.
Google distributes Android to phone makers free of charge. The vendors customize Android to take advantage of their unique hardware, or just to differentiate their products superficially. Then the cellular carriers who actually deliver most of the phones add their own apps, icons, restrictions, and cosmetic changes. The result is that one Android phone may have a very different user interface than another.
Frustrated and Fragmented
An HTC phone from Verizon will be a steep learning curve for the owner of a Samsung phone from T-mobile. Here's one from my own experience. I recently switched from a Samsung Galaxy S4 to the Motorola Moto X. (I couldn't resist the price, just one cent at Staples!) It's a great phone, but the Back button is on the left instead of the right. And there's no Options button at all. Things work a bit differently in the Phone, Contacts and Messaging apps, too. So I've had to get used to a different way of using my phone.
How fragmented is the Android market? OpenSignal.com makes an Android app that tracks cellular signal strength and quality. In August, 2015, the company found its app was running on 24,000 different products made by 1,300 vendors! http://opensignal.com/reports/2015/08/android-fragmentation/
The long distribution chain makes for long upgrade cycles. When Google releases a new version of Android, it can take years for it to filter down to end users. (Unless you bought a Nexus phone directly from Google.) Each new Android version must be customized all over again at the OEM (phone manufacturer) and carrier levels, a process that takes time and resources. OEMs and carriers have higher priorities. And as a rule, they release Android upgrades to their flagship phones first, and then work down the chain. If you have a phone that's more than two years old, it may never see an operating system upgrade.
As of October 2015, Android KitKat is still in use on over 38% of Android devices; it was released in late 2013. (In contrast, more than 50% of Apple devices were automatically updated to iOS 9 within days of its release.) This is actually a mixed blessing for some users. When those Android updates DO arrive, they often are disruptive, requiring relearning how to do things, or changes to the way you work. If you've had the experience of moving to Windows 8 from a previous version of Windows, you know exactly how this feels.
The update delay applies to security vulnerability patches, too. That’s a much bigger problem than not getting the bells and whistles of the latest Android version. In July, I wrote about the discovery of the “Stagefright” vulnerability (actually, a whole family of vulnerabilities) that exists in 95% of Android devices - 950 million in all. http://askbobrankin.com/stagefright_worst_android_vulnerability_yet.html Google patched its working copy of Android within two days. Your Android phone will probably never get a Stagefright patch. (There’s an app that will tell you if your Android device is vulnerable to Stagefright. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.zimperium.stagefrightdetector)
Let me add one more personal data point here. At least on Samsung Galaxy models, the latest Android 5.0 upgrade is causing some phones to have sluggish performance and battery drain issues. My wife has experienced both of these recently, to the point where she's saying "I want an iPhone!" Personally, I prefer the Android experience. That's probably because I enjoy dealing with gadgets, upgrades and the challenges they bring. But I understand that most people just want the darn thing to work reliably, and they want things to work the same from one day to the next.
Many Android fans are repulsed by Apple’s high-handed, controlling ownership of the iOS ecosystem, as well the relatively high prices of Apple products. But according to Tim Cook, tens of millions of Android users have come to appreciate the consistency and efficiency with which Apple runs its tight ship.
Tell me about your experience. Have you switched from Android to iPhone? Thinking about it? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 10 Nov 2015
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