Can Apple flick the Android-to-iPhone switch at WWDC 2016?

Apple has a chance to woo 26 percent of Android users to iOS at WWDC, but only if it plays the hand it has been dealt.

Apple, WWDC, iOS, iPhone, Apple Watch, developers
Bill So/Flickr

We are seeing numerous surveys and Apple-related data points this week as the industry prepares for Apple’s WWDC. In sum they suggest Apple stands at a critical moment, while its potential to woo customers from other platforms now appears entrenched.

Surveys say

Newly-published surveys, from Fluent, GPShopper and Walker Sands, suggest Apple’s anticipated plans to improve Siri and talk a little about Apple Watch 2 will resonate with consumers and consolidate its already highly loyal user base.

Apple Pay improvements, including retail enhancements and peer-to-peer payments may unleash new opportunities for the firm, and all these moves together may be enought to attract customers to its platforms.

Fluent findings

iPhone users overwhelmingly plan to remain iPhone users, Fluent's survey informs. The figures reveal that 87% of iPhone users plan to purchase another iPhone as their next phone, with 65% of them believing Apple products are worth the cost.

Android users are also loyal, but significantly less so. The survey claims just 74% of them will buy an Android device as their next phone, this effectively means Apple can still woo one-in-four Android users across to its platforms, if it only makes the right moves.

What sort of moves? The anticipated Siri improvements at WWDC will certainly inspire interest, Fluent says: “42% of iPhone users said that they would be somewhat more likely to purchase the newest generation iPhone with a vastly improved Siri,” the company points out. But it is in its forthcoming hardware releases that Apple may find the biggest arguments to convince switchers across.

What they want

iPhone users want wireless charging, full waterproofing and shatterproof screens as future flagship features, Fluent points out.

What’s interesting here is that these are pretty much the same things Android users want to see in future iPhones, which suggests introduction of any or all of these will help drive more of those less loyal to Android users to come to Apple's platform.

What you can do with the platform is also important, and that is where we'll see the focus next week. WWDC is developer event so it is interesting that Apple SVP Marketing, Philip Schiller, yesterday chose to give a pretty big series of developer focused announcements through a rare interview with The Verge.

Apple has made big announcements like this before other events, in my experience this usually means the company has much more it plans to reveal.

Incentives to innovate

Announcing an extension of subscription plans and the introduction of a new 15/85 revenue split with developers Apple clearly wants to incentivize innovation on its platforms.

Reacting to the Schiller’s news, Sean Cullen, EVP, Product & Technology at Fluent, told me: “I imagine these changes will have a positive response across the entire iOS developer ecosystem.The decrease from 30% to 15% may satiate large players such as Amazon, which refuses to offer its video service on Apple TV due to the current split, and Spotify, which has a pricing disadvantage vs. Apple Music on Apple platforms.

“Opening up subscription pricing to all categories may also allow smaller app developers, especially those that have long complained about the lack of upgrade pricing and the race-to-the-bottom pricing of apps, to achieve long-term sustainability.”

Strong interest in Watch 2

Apple may also take heart as a second survey from GPShopper offers positive insights for Apple’s smart watch -- 23% of consumers are considering getting the Apple Watch 2 when it is announced, with most willing to pay “at least” $300.

The survey also reveals potential for Apple to exploit iOS and Apple Watch in retail markets, through a combination of retail loyalty schemes and Apple Pay payments (again, this is broadly in line with what I've been saying elsewhere).

  • Nearly 1/4 of consumers wouldn’t make a purchase on the Apple Watch because they are worried it would be an impulse purchase.
  • 63% of consumers wouldn’t make a purchase for more than $100 through the Apple Watch.
  • Consumers are more likely to engage with a brand’s app on the watch if they can do things like get coupons (41%) or access customer loyalty programs (32%).

Apple Pay significance

The latter findings echo some of those in the recently published 3rd annual Walker Sands Future of Retail Study. This report confirms consumer interest in mobile retail technologies like push notifications, rewards and coupons, all areas in which Apple is thought to be planning Apple Pay and iOS enhancements, possibly as soon as next week.

Mobile payments continue to be held back by privacy and security concerns, but Walker Sands points out that: “Peer-to-peer payment applications may be taking off faster than point-of-sale mobile applications, especially among younger generations, with 44% of respondents ages 18 to 25 having used a P2P app.”

This latter stat suggests Apple could ignite its relationship with Millennial consumers when it launches such personal payments through iOS, Apple Pay and apps such as Message.

WWDC will primarily consist of a series of deeply transformative software announcements this year – but these significant service announcements will underpin all the rest of Apple's empire and may well provide a little more impetus for users of other platforms to switch.

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Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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