There’s no doubt Apple’s top brass don’t want the app to become particularly popular, especially in comparison to its popular Android to iOS migration app, “Move to iOS” app, installed by over a million people as of October 2015. (It’s other Android app, Apple Music, appears to have been installed about the same number of times).
Migration tools help users shift their important data between platforms, so they can keep their contacts, music and/or photos. Apple has been under pressure to introduce a tool to help people migrate to Android as competitors have complained the way things are structured right now locks users into the iOS platform.
Android device makers want Apple’s market position weakened, desperate as they are to create sustainable businesses from the few dollars left on the mobile device gaming table. Carriers want to be able to reach better contract terms than they can do already.
I don’t think their optimism will be realized, as the user experience remains one of the most compelling reasons its customers have to remain loyal to the platform. As one Android to iOS switcher explains: “There are always issues with Android and I got tired of debugging my phone.”
Successive sets of customer satisfaction figures show Apple’s dominance is not solely built on locking customers in, but on ensuring they are too happy with its platforms to want to switch. It isn’t vendor lock in that is generating 99 percent customer satisfaction rates, it’s buy in. People want to be there. The users are engaged.
Even with migration apps, Android device makers must focus on delivering good customer experiences. To be fair, in the last couple of years some Android device makers seem to be getting this message, however it will be Apple that gains the most through the release of an iOS to Android migration tool.
Ashes to ashes
Apple gains because doing so will remove a criticism its competitors use a lot, the idea that the company “locks its users” in. Apple’s late co-founder, Steve Jobs, once put fuel to this fire when he suggested his company “further lock customers” into the company’s ecosystems, but that was several years ago when the Android war first began.
Things have moved on.
Negating the “lock in” criticism will enable Apple to focus on platform advantages, things like security, privacy, upgradeability and useful device life, as well as integration with Macs, iPads and wearables. That new versions of the iOS ship annually is also an advantage, as are associated services like Apple Pay.
Apple’s secret sauce remains quality user experiences, the efficiency and power of its platforms, and its capacity to break new ground with first to market features like Multitouch, Touch ID or 3D Touch.
Apple’s success was evidenced by a May 2015 Kantar report which showed almost a third of new iOS users in Europe dumped Android for Apple. I don’t think this will change if Apple ships a migration app. Apple recently reported that almost 30 percent of iPhone purchases in Q4 2015 had migrated from Android.
With this in mind I don’t think we will see a flood of customers abandoning Apple’s platforms because easy migration tools are available. I predict it will work in a completely different way: once Android users get the message that they can easily migrate to iOS to try an iPhone and then easily migrate back if they don't like Apple's smartphone, I think we’ll see more of them putting iOS through its paces.
Apple’s challenge will be to make them happy when they do, ensuring they never switch back.
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