According to the study by GfK (see above Apple Insider story) 84 percent of current iPhone owners will stick with Apple next time. This shouldn’t come as a big surprise and it isn’t all to do with the excellence of the product or ease of ownership. The main factor at work is the involvement and investment in the ecosystem. The introduction of the App Store was the launchpad for the iOS market and it has enabled Apple to steal an almost unassailable lead in brand loyalty.
I have never met an iPhone owner who hasn’t purchased at least a few apps. And a big chunk of owners have bought many more than a few. What with TomTom (my most expensive app) and a raft of productivity programs, I must have at least £400 invested in the Apple ecosystem. To change to Android at this stage would be a very expensive prospect, even if I got a phone for free.
Android owners in my circle don’t seem as committed to apps and to the sort of constant use of the phone that is so common among iPhone users. I don’t know why this is, but my impression is that they are not investing in the ecosystem to the same degree. That, by extension, means that they remain less loyal and more likely to consider changing to another ecosystem.
There’s another factor. Several of the people I know who own Samsungs or HTCs really wanted an iPhone but couldn’t afford one. Their Android phones came either free or at low cost as part of a contract at a time when a similar iPhone deal meant a £200 or £300 up-front payment. I am sure that we will find the cheap or free 3GS beginning to chip away at this market and will bring even more people into the Apple ecosystem. There they will find themselves locked in with velvet handcuffs and ticking the brand loyalty box next time the survey comes around.