Apple iOS closes market gap with Android because of better brand loyalty

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Smartphone activation estimates in the June quarter suggests that Apple's iOS has closed the market share gap with Android.

For customers that purchased or otherwise acquired a new phone in quarter ending in June, iOS and Android both had 50% of the total market share, according to estimates by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.

This is significant because Android has long had a steady lead over iOS using the data metric. In most quarters, Android had as much as 60% of the market share.

"Apple iOS and Google Android are now roughly at parity in terms of share of buyers," said Josh Lowitz, a founder and partner at CIRP. "In the past couple of years, iOS has closed the gap, and now splits the market with Android."

CIRP suggests that loyalty and brand switching explain the change in smartphone activations. In a market with minimal switching, loyalty to the iPhone and the Apple ecosystem has remained steady or increased.

"In the most recent quarter, Apple had an edge in loyalty, with 93% of prior iPhone owners upgrading to a new iPhone, compared to 88% of Android owners staying with Android," said CIRP's Mike Levin.

Over several years, loyalty has been steadily increasing for Apple while remaining flat for Android. According to CIRP, this has allowed Apple to gain market share.

CIRP's findings are estimates based on a survey of 500 U.S. customers that activated a new or used iPhone in the three months between April and June 2021. Although that's a small sample size, other reports have suggested a similar uptick in iOS loyalty compared to Android.

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