Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) released some new data today (via 9to5Mac) indicating that during the first quarter of this year, 56% of the smartphones activated in the U.S. were Android flavored handsets while the remaining 44% were iPhone units running iOS. Compared to last year, Android lost 8 percentage points (which of course means that iOS added those 8 percentage points). During 2018's first quarter, U.S. activations favored Android by a 68% to 32% margin.
In 2017 and 2016, Android's first-quarter share of smart phone activations amounted to 62% and 58% respectively. So it would appear that as far as Apple is concerned, this has been the best first quarter for the iPhone since 2016.
Globally, Android is estimated to own approximately 86% of the worldwide smartphone market which is amazing when you consider that back in 2009 it had a 3.9% share and just .5% in 2018. Apple's iOS was third with 14.4% in 2009 and fourth with an 8.2% slice of the global smartphone pie during the preceding year. It is incredible how things change. In 2009, Symbian was the top smartphone operating system in the world with 46.9% of the market. That was a huge lead over the 19.9% share owned by BlackBerry OS. Today, neither operating system exists.
CIRP's report today also revealed how hard it is for Apple to attract a new iOS user away from Android and vice versa. The latest data shows that during the first quarter of 2020, iOS had a loyalty rate of 91% compared to 89% for Android. Both platforms have done a good job keeping consumers from jumping ship. During the four years from Q1 2017 to Q1 2020, both iOS and Android each had a loyalty rate close to 90%. In 2016, the rate was 85% for Android and 89% for iOS. This also indicates that most of the switching that goes on is between phone manufacturers and not operating systems.
Mike Levin, Partner and Co-Founder of CIRP, said, "Operating system loyalty is stable at very high levels. For the past four or so years, around 90% of new mobile phone activations stayed with the buyer’s previous operating system. Despite Apple’s efforts to attract Android users to iOS, and Android handset manufacturers' similar efforts to attract iPhone customers, operating system usage is among the stickiest of all consumer affinities."