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Posted on November 14th, 2010 by Davey Winder

Poll suggests third of Android owners really want an iPhone


Android is on a wave, it would seem, what with Gartner just announcing that the Google mobile OS has a 25.5% global market share. This puts it in second place behind Symbian on 36.6%, miles ahead of Apple’s iOS on 16.7% and RIM on 14.8%. Indeed, Gartner says that 1.4 million more Android handsets were sold in the third quarter compared to this time last year, taking the total to 20.5 million. However, one piece of polling would suggest that not everyone in the Android camp is a happy bunny.

A survey conducted by a mobile phone comparison website called MyPhoneDeals reckons that many Android owners would much rather have an iPhone, truth be told. Interestingly, the reverse is not true. MyPhoneDeals found Android owners some four times more likely to covet an iPhone than iPhone owners were to desire an Android handset. Apparently a third of the Android-owning folk asked said they wanted an iPhone, and 7% of iPhone owners actually said they would prefer an Android model thank you very much.

The figures coming out of this poll (which doesn’t appear to be available online, sorry folks) rather surprisingly also suggest that only16% of people would ‘most like to own’ an Android smartphone. Which is downright bizarre, if you ask me, given that popularity wave of which I spoke at the start of this piece and the sales figures for Android devices so far this year. More of my ideas on that later. Still, it could be worse, we could be talking about the new Windows Phone devices of which only 3% of respondents stuck up their hands regarding the most wanted question.

Apple will be happy enough, though, as MyPhoneDeals found that more than half of men who didn’t already own a smartphone would choose to break their smartphone virginity with an iPhone. That compares to less than one-fifth who were planning an Android first purchase. Woman proved to be even more attracted to the iPhone with nearly three-quarters of those asked thinking it the most desirable of smartphones.

There are, I think, a few things wrong with all of this. First there is the sample size involved which, at just 524 people, is hardly likely to be hugely representative of the market in my opinion. Secondly, I can’t help but feel that what this survey reveals is that Apple brand marketing works really well. Everyone knows not only what an iPhone is and what it does but what it looks like. The whole iOS interface has become an iconic benchmark for user friendliness and is what most consumers aspire to and most rivals, it has to be said, attempt to copy.

That doesn’t mean that people really don’t want an Android, but rather that they are less aware that the smartphone they lust after is Android-based perhaps? My own totally random polling of friends and family, which involved me showing people an HTC Desire handset and asking if they would rather have this smartphone, an iPhone or an Android handset produced interesting results.

I asked 10 people. Three knew the HTC Desire was an Android handset, four said they would like an iPhone, two said an Android and one said the HTC. What does this prove? Simple: many people wouldn’t know an Android-based smartphone if it bit them on the arse, whereas an iPhone doesn’t need to gnash on your booty to introduce itself.

Of course, this Android commoditisation of the smartphone market is a double-edged sword: it builds market share but with a myriad custom front ends it does nothing to build consumer awareness or, importantly, brand loyalty or desirability. Still, even allowing for the small sample size of that survey, it remains interesting that so many people with other phones would prefer an iPhone, and one has to wonder why it is they don’t have one.

The only thing I can think of that would deter folk is price. If that is the case, as Android brand awareness increases and Android-based handsets continue to innovate and impress, the iPhone could be in for a bumpy ride in the marketplace.

Where Windows Phone 7 handsets fit into all of this is less easy to predict, what do you reckon?

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23 Responses to “ Poll suggests third of Android owners really want an iPhone ”

  1. sachin Says:
    November 14th, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    I fully agree with this article. After having used an iphone for 3 yrs…I am in no mood to move to android. Iphone is not so easily available to people unless you sign up for a contract, as an android based phone is, and that is the only issue that might move me to android else it has to be an android.
    There are talks of Andoid 2.3 being launched soon and most of the handsets do not even have an update for 2.1 and 2.2 so you can imagine the difference between an iphone and an android.

  2. Geoff Airey Says:
    November 14th, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    I think that this also comes down to the fact that you can get Android phones free with a contract, whereas unless you’re spending a lot of money a month on contract you won’t get an iPhone for Free so those wanting a smartphone are more likely to pick Android rather than shelling out Hundreds of pounds for an iPhone.

  3. Kevin Leers Says:
    November 14th, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    Oh SURE, just what Apple would want you to believe. I’ve had an iPhone and I’m not impressed. Slowdowns, lock-in and expense? No Thanks.

  4. D Says:
    November 14th, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    I wouldn’t mind an iPhone with Android OS on it :)
    I really prefer the openness of Android over Apple’s chastity belt. And I like the thought that if one day the manufacturer will no longer supply updates for my phone, I can get them from others.

  5. Fintan Says:
    November 14th, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    Who payed for those “stats”?

  6. Ian H Says:
    November 14th, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    iPhone4 is without doubt the shiniest product at the mo, but owning it means accepting the compromise that you can only do what Steve lets you do. For many people that is enough, but as Android and Windows Phone 7 mature, the choice will become harder.
    Perhaps Apple’s biggest advantage is that they only have to invest in one phone design at a time, whilst the rest of the market is awash with plasticy rivals. Maybe we need HTC Desires and Samsung Galaxy S’s to have the shiny look of the HTC Legend before Apple’s rivals can properly complete with Apple’s bling.

  7. SimonF Says:
    November 15th, 2010 at 4:14 am

    This whole thing may be missing a key point however. You or I may care what operating system our phone runs, how fast the processor is, how much memory it’s got, etc. But we’re geeks. “Normal” people don’t care about that stuff, they only care what the phone does and how well/easily it does it. That’s where Apple’s brand building pays for itself. Given a choice between two handsets that are roughly comparable on most key criteria, most people will go for the brand name they recognise, even if it’s a little bit more expensive.

  8. David Wright Says:
    November 15th, 2010 at 6:59 am

    I think you are also not taking into account, that in most markets, the iPhone is only available on one carrier – and often the one with the worst reliability or coverage.

    Add in loyalty to a carrier or not having coverage at work/home with the iPhone carrier, that makes a huge number of people who can buy an Android, Windows Mobile or RIM, but have no chance of getting an iPhone. Given that, it isn’t that surprising that Android is so popular.

    Luckily, here in Germany, the exclusive iPhone carrier also has the best coverage – but a lot of companies still have contracts with E-Plus, Vodafone, BASE, O2 etc.

    Anyway, I’m very happy with my new Windows Phone 7 device. The interface is great, I much prefer it to my iPhone (private and company phones, before you ask). I looked at the Android but, even as a long time Linux user, the market is too fragmented and I didn’t get on with the user interface…

  9. JohnAHind Says:
    November 15th, 2010 at 9:33 am

    I was amused by your complaining about a sample size of “just 524 people” and then going on with a completely straight face to build an argument starting “I asked 10 people”!

  10. Davey Winder Says:
    November 15th, 2010 at 10:19 am

    @John You couldn’t see my face, otherwise you would have noticed the huge ironic grin upon it as I wrote “I asked 10 people” – look, here it is again —> :)

  11. Davey Winder Says:
    November 15th, 2010 at 10:21 am

    @Simon I think it is even less complex than that, actually. Forget the functionality bit, most people just assume a smartphone is smart enough to do what it does: people are swung by looks and design, those are the things that drive desirability. Well, that and a certain degree of being one of the ‘cool people’ – which is where the Apple branding machine comes into full swing.

  12. Dave Faulkner Says:
    November 15th, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Price was a major factor in going Android for me back in April. Apple, Android and Blackberry were all in the running in principle for me (I discounted Windows Mobile 6.5 at the time for its poor reviews.) Essentially, I needed a fancy PDA replacement. I needed a mobile, but I don’t make a massive number of calls or send a huge number of texts, so a cheap contract with T-Mobile was very attractive. It undercut both Apple and Blackberry.

    In any case, I didn’t need the device to function as an MP3 player, as I have a huge music collection for which my 160GB iPod is too small anyway.

    So economically Android won. I did wonder whether I would not do so well with apps, given that Android Market has rather fewer than iTunes, and while I occasionally wish that certain iPhone apps were available on Android, I’ve not missed out much. And besides, if you can’t afford it, you can’t have it.

  13. Tom Says:
    November 15th, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Many years ago I did o’level economics. Not overly useful in my later life but one thing I do remember is the the power of ubiquity. You buy certain canned drinks, sauces, tinned products, coffee etc. not because they’re good but because they are everywhere and, most importantly, you know what you’re getting.

    Apple’s skill lies in the fact that they concentrated on single products in clearly defined markets and delivered that certainty over what you’re getting.

    One thing I do wonder about, is if Apple have backed themselves into a corner. To a large extent there can only be one iPhone. If they produced as many variants as HTC, for example, the ‘idea’ of the iPhone would be eroded and worth significantly less.

  14. Paul Says:
    November 15th, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Really, you actually got some stats indicating that I would prefer an Iphone to Android.
    Nope, never. Android is far better and getting even better, it’s open, easy to use and compatible with mp3, ogg, flac, Youtube and more.

    So I don’t think those stats are really accurate.

  15. jthono Says:
    November 15th, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    I would never consider leaving android for an iphone – at least not anytime soon.

  16. Neil Says:
    November 15th, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    How does “Apple marketing” have anything to do with it?
    Doesn’t everyone else market their products too? Of course they do, it’s just that people know that Apple is the leader and the others are the followers.
    Customer satisfaction ratings for Apple products are consistently higher than for the likes of Dell, etc. and if you do have a problem you can go to the apple store and get FREE tech help.

    I have a nine year old Mac laptop and it stopped charging. One trip to the store and they figured out what the problem was. Try taking your Toshiba/Dell/HP back nine years later and see what they say!!!

    It has nothing to do with branding and everything to do with experience. So far, Android has come the closest to copying Apple’s mojo, but that’s all it is, a copy, and everyone knows it.

  17. ArtySin Says:
    November 15th, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    When my contract ran out 6months ago I changed to the HTC Desire now with 2.2 on it. NOT being a Jobs disciple I rejected the iPhone and it was £99 too so no to that. However, my experience with Android has been mixed. The apps I need are mostly free and the UI is quite good too so I was rather happy with it. All that changed however when I read an Engadget report about all the data that these apps suck off your phone in exchange for it being free. I should have read the detail more when installing but hey, you just want to use it and get on with the installation. I now switch off the Internet access so they can’t get at the data so maybe I should have gone for an upmarket Nokia. Then the kids gave me an iPad for my birthday and after using the UI on that and trying out a friend’s iPhone, I can now see what all the fuss is about. The UI is great, the apps (free ones such as flipbook) I use are phenominal and I still don’t like Mr Jobs but I now wish I’d have got an iPhone.

  18. David Wright Says:
    November 16th, 2010 at 5:26 am

    @Neil I think part of it is also that most people see computers and phones as consumer goods and don’t attach any fanboy-like feelings to their products. Apple, more specifically Jobs, create an aura around their products and the people feel more attached to their products and are often more vocal.

    This isn’t a bad thing, but I think it does skew the results a little.

  19. DMc Says:
    November 16th, 2010 at 10:26 am

    As with many questionnaires the questions are misleading as it’s important to know whether the user has used both OS.

    I’ve had both and although I prefer the look of the iPhone I much prefer to have my HTC Desire. As someone else has said, give me an iPhone with Andriod and i’d be a happy chappy!

  20. Andy Says:
    November 16th, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    I have an Android Galaxy s and it’s a great phone with a pretty good OS. I recently upgraded to 2.2.
    However, I will probably be getting a Win Phone 7 in August when my contract is up. One annoying niggle with my android phone is outlook synch. Just used to be a done deal with winmo 5.5 and activesync. This is more an issue with samsung kies to be fair though. Doesn’t like Win 7 ultimate 64bit and Outlook 2010.

    I reckon Win Phone 7 ought to sell pretty well. The active tiles thing looks very promising.
    There will be more apps coming out for WP7 because Silverlight is a way better development language than is available on other OS.
    Having said that, memory map is available on the iPhone and it’s a very tempting app.

    Marketing is all very well.
    Apps, Convenience and Screen are the big three, IMO.

  21. Orko138 Says:
    November 18th, 2010 at 2:49 am

    @Davey Winder ‘ Forget the functionality bit, most people just assume a smartphone is smart enough to do what it does: people are swung by looks and design, those are the things that drive desirability. Well, that and a certain degree of being one of the ‘cool people’ – which is where the Apple branding machine comes into full swing.

    In Australia, iPhones are everywhere, like a plague of epic proportions. I recently dumped my iPhone 3GS for an HTC Desire HD. I opened the box in my office and about 13-14 people crammed around to watch. Not many of them knew of Android, or what it is, or who makes them – ‘does google make the phone? can you buy apps like the iPhone?’ etc. I really think that some of the newer high-end handsets are really delivering on that ‘desirable’ form factor (excuse the bad pun) you talk about, which appears to be a welcome change – more than just a curiosity – at least here in OZ.

  22. abc Says:
    November 22nd, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    > Andy Says:
    > There will be more apps coming
    > out for WP7 because Silverlight
    > is a way better development
    > language than is available on
    > other OS.

    LOL!!! .NET and Silverlight are a piece of shit and Windows Phone 7 is an unmittigated dissaster. Anything is better then an OS which doesn’t even have copy and paste

  23. David Wright Says:
    November 23rd, 2010 at 7:07 am

    @abc Have you actually spent any time using WP7 yet, to come to this conclusion?

    After having used an iPhone for over a year, I find Windows Phone 7 a breath of fresh air.

    At the moment, I have the iPhone syncing with MobileMe and my iMac, my WP7 with my Windows 7 laptop and Plus company e-mail over Exchange. WP7 is overly protective and the mal-configured certificate on the server caused problems, but otherwise it has been very smooth.

    Copy and paste would be useful in some apps, like Office, but I can’t say I’ve missed it yet – there again, I’ve used it maybe half a dozen times in the last year on my iPhone.

    In daily use, I tend to use the iPhone for games – as I have already invested money in some games. For podcasts, I use the WP7 – the sound quality is better, both from the internal speakers on my Mozart and through the headphones or car stereo.

    Both have occassional problems syncing the last played position in podcasts, so neither gets 100% there. The Zune software works much better on Windows than iTunes – and although I’ve been using iTunes on my iMac for 4 years and Zune for a couple of weeks, I prefer the Zune interface.

    I was looking at going for Android, but the version fragmentation (I’m not wasting time rooting a ‘phone and jailbreaking it, this is my primary communications device, so it needs to “just work”) and some playing around with the user interface put me off.

    We had some Blackberrys at my last employer, admitedly not the latest Bolds, but nobody liked them and I found the user interface very hostile, after Symbian, Windows Mobile and iOS 3. They were in the process of migrating everybody to iPhones when I left.


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