Android was always going to dominate developing markets simply due to offering some of the cheapest smartphones, but in Europe now too Android dwarfs the competition with Apple’s market share on decline. Why is it just in the US where Apple remains competitive in terms of market share?
Apple essentially created the smartphone space, but whilst Google rapidly iterated Android to catch up with iOS, Apple has left the iPhone relatively stagnant for the last three years. Android smartphones caught up to the iPhone in terms of underlying technology with the launch of the Galaxy S2, and now are outpacing the iPhone in terms of technology because of the massive competition within the Android ecosystem. With Android smartphones generally cheapar than iPhones, why does the US still love the iPhone?
The latest figures from Kantar Worldpanel [PDF] show that acrcoss Europe, iOS market share has either flat lined or declined with Android and Windows Phone improving their share, and BlackBerry share almost disappearing completely. In the US, however, iOS and Android have seen similar increases in market share, with around half the market each. Why are US users more loyal to Apple than those in Europe and the rest of the world?
Apps and Developers
Both iOS and Android offer app stores with over a million apps, but there is no doubting that when new companies launch an app, they will either launch on both platforms together, or launch as iOS-only first. This is due to a variety of reasons, but most importantly it is that the iOS ecosystem is less fragmented and that earnings per user on iOS still far exceed those on Android. And if developers prefer one platform, then users who like either established iOS-only apps or like to try out the latest and greatest apps then an iPhone makes sense.
The population of the US is one of the highest in the world, and whilst European have been hit with flatlining economies and everyone tightening their belts over the past few years, the US economy has recovered much more successfully. If US users are less focused on price, then staying with the iPhone makes more sense.
Apple is well known to offer a walled garden and strict limits upon how people use their phones. No matter the platform, however, once you have bought five or ten apps on that platform and have got used to how the device works, then it is a tough decision to make the switch – it costs more to buy the apps again, and you’ll need to spend some extra time learning the new OS. Apple had a higher penetration in the US to the rest of the world, so maybe it just takes longer to grind the lead down there?
Apple has long spent a great deal of money on advertising its products, but with more commercial time on television in the US, and generally a larger marketing budget per person in the country, marketing will also have its part to play. If you are constantly reminded how great the iPhone is and the new features that are Apple-exclusive then that may keep you loyal.
What do you think? Are Americans just slow to embrace change or is there something truly inspirational and American in Apple that appeals to their sensibilities?
Photograph by Matthew Pearce