July 11, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
The Android race to the top has been chronicled many times, as has the Android vs. iOS debates. However, in the United Kingdom at least, Android’s growth has little to do with converting the iOS crowd. It has everything to do with convincing new smartphone users to forsake the iPhone and get an HTC Desire, Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc, and Samsung Galaxy S II instead.
Market research group Kantar Worldpanel has released sample data that shows Android’s rapidly growing market share is in thanks to first-time smartphone buyers. According to Kantar, only 1.4 percent of new Android owners switched from an iPhone. The vast majority – 74.3 percent – are upgrading from a feature phone.
Much of the Smartphone Wars conversation occurs between loyal Android and iPhone users, so debates are usually preaching to the choir. Kantar’s data shows that the battle for OS supremacy is really taking place among the millions of new users who are choosing a smartphone for the first time. That battle is critical because converting an existing smartphone customer requires that a consumer abandons the investment in apps and features they love. It’s easy to say that someone has grown tired of iOS’s limitations, but that person will have a tougher time cutting ties knowing that they will have to repurchase their beloved apps or may not find an Android version of that app.
Because of the likelihood of remaining loyal, Google and its rivals recognize the importance of attracting new customers. About 6 out of 10 British consumers are still using a feature phone, and those are the people that will power Android’s growth. (A similar conclusion can be reached based on Nielsen’s data that 7 of 10 American consumers have feature phones.)
The Guardian has several other stats from Kantar’s report, so read the full article here for a complete breakdown. Here are a few other tidbits on the UK smartphone market worth noting:
- 17.5 percent of Android users switched from Symbian
- 2.5 percent of feature phone owners upgrade to smartphones every 4 weeks. There will be a smartphone majority (51 percent or higher) by June 2012
- RIM is doing well in the UK despite the company trailing Apple/Google in the US
- Android grew from 1 percent market share in June 2010 to 9 percent in June 2011. That outpaced all rivals.