Setting the record straight on iPhone and Android

“There’s lies, damned lies, and statistics.” — Mark Twain

A number of reports over the weekend surfaced referencing a statistic from my latest report, “Why iPhones Matter“. An article in CNN Money was the first to start this meme, stating in his article that:

“The iPhone is also the gift that keeps on giving: 77% of iPhone owners say they’ll buy another iPhone, compared to 20% of Android customers who say they’ll buy another Android phone.

Now that would be an extraordinary statistic if it were true. Unfortunately, it isn’t.

The following excerpt from the report correctly describes the data we collected. I’ve expanded slightly on the text to both be more precise (i.e., using numbers from the graphic instead of the more colloquial “more than three quarters” used in the original) and to provide context (i.e., providing information that is part of the overall research, but which isn’t strictly in this block of text I’m quoting). I’ve also included the graphic from the report along with this blog post so people can see the data for themselves.

  • iPhone owners intend to stick with Apple. Unsurprisingly, not only do 88 percent of iPhone owners intend to buy another smartphone, but 77 percent of iPhone owners intend to buy another Apple phone.
  • Significant numbers of non-iPhone owners intend to buy iPhones. A third of smartphone owners of all types who intend to buy a smartphone intend to buy an iPhone. In fact, Apple is the most popular choice for a future smartphone among all mobile phone owners.
  • No other manufacturer can claim nearly the loyalty of iPhone owners. RIM BlackBerry owners see a touch-screen device as the antithesis of their hard keyboards. However, even in this category, 23 percent of respondents plan to buy an Apple iPhone. We see similar results with all other mobile phone owners. In fact, 36 percent of Google-branded Android phone owners say they plan to buy an iPhone, surpassing the 32 percent of Google-branded phone owners who intend to buy another Android phone.

This is no knock on CNN Money; it’s hard to condense 3,500 words statistically describing iPhone owners and their behaviors into a paragraph. However, given how much play the statistic is getting, it seems like a good idea to set the record straight.

So what is the right statistic for Android owners? The honest answer is that we don’t know. You’ll note in the excerpt above, we were careful to say “Google-branded Android phone owners”. That’s because our data keys on the manufacturer of the phone as the way to determine what type of phone a consumer owns. Because all non-Google Android brands make phones using other operating systems, Google-branded phones are the only ones we can be certain run Android. However, restricting ourselves to that category means that we leave out a big segment of Android owners, specifically those who own Motorola Droids and HTC EVOs among others. Clearly these owners may have differing future buying preferences, but our survey is unable to differentiate those Android phone owners from non-Android phones made by those manufacturers.

Yankee Group still believes that Android will become the next breakout mobile phone platform, making it the third most popular platform behind iPhone and RIM’s Blackberry in installed base for at least the next five years. For the moment, the statistical basis for that prediction is better than reported over the weekend, but still a bit unclear until we can gather data on Android owners of all phone brands. But in the meantime we do know this: iPhone still leads in the minds of consumers when they think about buying a new smartphone.

Follow-on: Some have asked about the samples size of this study. Here’s the official methodological data from the report:

The 2010 survey results to date contain 3,425 respondents, while the 2009 survey results have 14,254. We segment responses to the survey based on the types and brands of mobile phone those consumers own. Specifically, we define the segments as follows:

  • Mobile phone owners: This segment comprises all respondents who own a mobile phone, regardless of brand.
  • Smartphone owners: This segment comprises all owners who self-identify their handset as a smartphone, which we define as “a mobile phone offering advanced multimedia features like e-mail, Internet browsing and/or a touch screen or built-in full keyboard, using a smartphone OS.” Examples include the iPhone OS, Palm webOS, Symbian S60, Windows Mobile, Linux, Android and BlackBerry OS.
  • iPhone owners: This segment comprises all respondents who say their phone brand is Apple.

The surveys used for this report were conducted prior to the iPhone 4 launch. We believe all the trends we note in this report will continue after the iPhone 4 launch, perhaps with even greater strength. We won’t, however, have objective data to measure the magnitude of those effects until later in 2010.

27 Responses to “Setting the record straight on iPhone and Android”

what really matters is Apple has come forward with their sales numbers exactly, their return rates exactly, and the fact that they can not make iPhone 4′s fast enough..

HTC came forward with a number which turned out to be a lie, then revised it down to half, and has not come out with another number since, why?????

Motorola has not come forward/or Verizon on how many sales of Droid X’s… and i doubt in 4 months whether they will come forward with return numbers….

Money talks, and all we get out of the Android camp is BS…..


I’m curious as to why your company didn’t add one more question to the survey. It wouldn’t have been difficult to ask if the owner of a none Google smartphone was using one with Android. That would have given you the information you needed that you say you don’t have.

That lack seems to be unnecessary, and would have made your survey much more useful.


[…] It’s ok. The group that came out with the statistics that Bill Palmer (@BillPalmer on twitter for those of you who would like to leave a comment but can’t) grossly exaggerated and misconstrued has clarified their findings so that they’re not so easy to spin. Yankee Group Blog Blog Archive Setting the record straight on iPhone and Android […]


20% of Android customers who say they’ll buy another Android phone.” (HT: Daring Fireball) DF made a bit of a correction to this. Apparently it only included the clunky G1 and the Nexus […]


> It wouldn’t have been difficult to ask
> if the owner of a none Google smartphone
> was using one with Android.

It wouldn’t be difficult to ask, but it would be difficult for the user to answer. Most phone users don’t know what an operating system is. It would be hard even for most iPhone users to name what operating system their phone runs. Most phone users can’t tell you what phone they have unless it is right there in front of them and they can read the name off of it. Why not ask them what SOC they have in there?

> That lack seems to be unnecessary, and would
> have made your survey much more useful.

… to Android enthusiasts. About half of Android phones run v1 and half v2, and any particular app only runs on half the devices. Some have MotoBlur UI, some have the Sense UI, some have the Google UI. Why lump them together at all? To bump up the numbers while blurring the data? You might as well lump in Palm since they also have a Linux kernel. Or why not compare all Qualcomm SOC’s against TI SOC’s? Because this survey is about smartphone brands, not operating systems or CPU’s. Apple-branded, Google-branded, Blackberry-branded, and so on.

I think this survey is very useful, and it goes with other data I have seen that suggest the smartphone market has been iPodded. Possibly even the entire phone market, since Apple already takes the majority of the profits and since feature phone users move up to smartphones as time goes on.

Yankee Group Blog » Blog Archive » Setting the record straight on iPhone and Android.

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