A new data report from Merrill Lynch Global Research may suggest that Android brand loyalty could be on the decline.
Merrill Lynch analyst Horace Dediu recently tweeted out a chart that compiled the firm’s data on 32,523 smartphone users across the device spectrum — Apple users, Blackberry and Windows Phone users, and Android users who own devices from most top brands in that ecosystem.
To be clear, it doesn’t show any particularly groundbreaking change in brand loyalty quite yet. But its findings show that brand loyalty among Android users could be softening over time.
The chart ranks which brand of device users would plan on buying for their next smartphone, broken down by what device they were using currently.
Reading across that top line is shocking. pic.twitter.com/TSFZnABjrA
— Horace Dediu (@asymco) October 10, 2018
For Android titans Samsung and Huawei, that figure was 53 and 54 percent, respectively. Just 42 percent of first-party Google owners said they planned on buying another Google device. Other Android brands seemed to have even less device loyalty than that.
But, interestingly, Apple was the most popular device among brand switchers across the spectrum. In other words, if a user wasn’t planning on buying another device from their current OEM, they would choose an iPhone.
It doesn’t seem to work the other way around, as Apple iPhone owners seem particularly invested in the ecosystem. Merrill Lynch’s data shows that among 70 percent of current Apple iPhone owners, another iPhone was their first choice for their next device.
Compared to Apple, the results were even more asymmetric. While 25 percent of HTC device owners said they intended on buying an iPhone, only one percent of iPhone owners said they’d opt for an HTC.
Of course, the data is far from all-encompassing. Certain groups in the survey, like Blackberry and Google, were made up of only a few dozen people. Similarly, there’s no word on the regional distribution of the data collected. That could be an important factor, too.
It’s also worth noting that the survey asks users about which device they plan on buying. Many of them may not follow through.
For comparison’s sake, a separate set of data released in 2015 indicated that the majority of smartphone owners remain loyal to their particular brand. Importantly, that study focused on actual device activation, rather than user answers.
But that was three years ago, and it’s perfectly possible for the landscape to have changed in that time
If the Merrill Lynch data is accurate, it could certainly suggest that Android brand loyalty is slowly declining. That may be attributable to an overall decline in the smartphone market, or an oversaturation of standout devices in the Android sphere.
This is also purely looking at smartphone statistics. In other spheres, Apple is clearly dominating. When it comes to tablets and wearables, the company’s iPad and Apple Watch are the clear market leaders.