1.5m US iPhone users are about to switch to Android

But almost 4 million Android users will switch to iPhone

The latest Fluent data suggests interest in the next iPhone 7 is muted in contrast to previous years, with only one in three existing users thinking its release is a big deal. All the same, Apple is attracting far more Android switchers than it is losing iPhone users.

[Also read: Apple’s iPhone 7 gets even closer to the desktop]

iPhone quitters

If we take ComScore figures for January 2016 we see that around 198.5 million people in the US own smartphones. 52.8 percent of these use Android and 43.6 percent use iPhones, ComScore claims.

If we use ComScore’s figures as base we can make some estimates based on Fluent’s research. Fluent believes 29 percent of all iPhone users will definitely buy a new phone this year, and while 87 percent of them will stick with Apple (21.8 million), 6 percent will switch to Android. This suggests that around 1.5 million US iPhone users will make this switch.

Android switchers

It’s not all bad news for Apple. 22 percent of Android users will “definitely” upgrade their device this year, and while 76 percent of them will stick with that platform, 17 percent will switch to iPhone. This works out to mean 3.91 million Android users seem likely to switch to Apple’s new iPhone this year.

Overall it means for every iPhone user abandoning the platform, just over two Android users switch (or, conceivably, switch back) to iPhone. That this is the direction of travel is a positive outcome for Apple. Put all the data together and it suggests the company will sell at least 25 million new iPhones in the next 12-months in the US alone, which is a good business, if not record-breaking.

Modest expectations

Apple’s big challenge appears to be consumer indifference to what’s being speculated upon at this time, at least according to Fluent. Just 3 in 10 iPhone users (31%) think the new model will be a big deal.

  • 28% think the new models will be a major improvement.
  • 56% of consumers think waterproofing is important
  • 63% of consumers think the rumored loss of the headphone jack is a drawback
  • Nearly 3 in 5 (59%) say iPhones are better than other similar phones.

Andrew Ribner, Research Director at Fluent offered me a few insights based on the company’s findings:

“Compared with when the iPhone hit the market ten years ago, the iPhone is now rather undifferentiated from other brands,” he said, citing Fluent’s finding that 53% of smartphone users think it is about the same as other similarly priced phones. The research also suggests that 70 percent of consumers think iPhones are too expensive, 29% of consumers believe the iPhone is better than other similarly priced smartphones.

Dare to be different

There has been a lot of criticism thrown at Apple – not least for maintaining the same basic design to its iPhone range. Some of these criticisms stick, and making its devices seem significantly different to imitative competitors is proving a challenge.

“This lack of differentiation left Apple struggling to find the next big breakthrough idea as only 31% of consumers now say the announcement of a new iPhone model is a big deal and only 28% are expecting a major improvement in the upcoming new versions,” said Ribner. Just 36% of iPhone users actually think the new iPhone will bring major improvements, though they are very likely to stick with the platform.

“Apple or its competitors will need to come out with new revolutionary smartphone technology that is capable of overcoming the ‘switch costs’ associated with learning a new mobile software platform,” said Ribner.

That’s what Fluent had to say – it will be interesting to compare these predictions to what actually transpires once Apple takes the wraps off what it has been developing in iPhone 7.

While the economic situation and consumer excitement seem lower than in previous years as we await iPhone 2016, the iPhone will be ten years old in 2017.

That’s when Apple will be under huge pressure to do something exciting with its smartphone, and with consumers excited about things like waterproofing, wireless charging, better battery life and a haptic Home button, it will be interesting to see how the company moves forward. Meanwhile here is the good, bad and ugly about what we expect from the new iPhone 7.

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Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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