Consumers Now More Likely to Buy Androids than iPhones

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New Market Force research also shows that more than 80% of consumers already own a smartphone or plan to buy one in the next six months for web browsing, email, and navigation services.

We found that consumers aren't likely to switch from their current wireless providers

A new study by leading customer intelligence firm Market Force Information shows that smartphones have hit the tipping point in 2011. The findings reveal that 51% of consumers already own smartphones and of those who don’t, 33% said they intend to purchase one in the next six months. By contrast, a negligible 6% said they plan to buy a cell phone without data capabilities.

The good news for Google is that the Android appears to be winning the smartphone popularity contest against the iPhone. When asked which smartphone they would purchase, 34% of survey respondents said Android, while only 21% said iPhone, and 12% said Blackberry. See Graph 1. About 25% were undecided, signifying a potential opportunity for any of the manufacturers to sway their purchase preferences.

“With the Verizon-Apple partnership in motion, we anticipated that more consumers would be moving to the iPhone, so it intrigued us to see the sizeable shift toward the Android,” said Janet Eden-Harris, chief marketing officer for Market Force. “Some of our other research data shows that consumers aren’t likely to switch from their current wireless carriers, and a large portion use Sprint and T-Mobile, so Android will most likely be their smartphone choice.”

Which Carrier Will Reign Supreme?
It came as no surprise that 95% of consumers reported using a “Big 4” wireless provider, with a breakdown that closely reflects current market share numbers: Verizon (36%), AT&T (28%), Sprint (12%) and T-Mobile (10%). See Graph 2. However, only about 9% said they plan to switch providers, explaining the switch would be due to price or coverage issues, or because their current provider does not offer the phone they want. Nearly all of the 9% who indicated that they would switch providers said they would move to Verizon or AT&T.

There’s Something About the Features
Applications are seemingly the biggest draw for consumers snatching up smartphones, and they are spurring overall market adoption. According to a report from research firm Distimo, the Apple App Store was surpassed by Google's Android Market, BlackBerry’s App World and Nokia's Store in the U.S. last year, each adding smartphone software faster than Apple's App Store, with Android Market tracking the highest growth rate.

Market Force’s study reveals the top two most sought-after smartphone applications are web browsing and email. Navigation also ranked high, earning the third spot, and games were ranked fourth. See Graph 3.

Sales Associates Wield Same Influence as Family and Friends
Consumers are heeding advice from sales associates as much as they are from their family and friends for their smartphone purchases. When Market Force asked study participants to select all of the factors that influence their purchase decisions, speaking with wireless store salespeople, as well as referrals from family, friends and colleagues topped the list, with each receiving 57% of the mentions. The wireless provider’s website was selected by 52% of respondents, making it another key point of influence. On the other hand, social media was selected by only 12%, ranking it among the lowest on the list.

The Internet is also playing a surprisingly minor role as a smartphone sales channel. Eighty-three percent of consumers said they will purchase their smartphones through a retail store, with 60% of those buying from the wireless provider’s store. Just 13% said they will buy online through an e-tailer like Amazon.

Market Force will be presenting its smartphone research, as well as other consumer electronics industry trend data, during a free webinar on Feb. 23 at 1 p.m. EST entitled “What Electronics are Still on Consumers' Wish Lists?” Register by visiting

Survey Demographics
The survey was conducted in December 2010 across the United States and Canada. The pool of 5,600 respondents reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with approximately 70% reporting household incomes of more than $50,000 a year. Respondents’ ages ranged from 19- to 70-years old. Approximately three-quarters of respondents were women - the primary household consumer purchasers – and an equal percentage work full- or part-time. Half of the respondents have children at home and two thirds are married.

About Market Force Information
Market Force Information, Inc. is the leading global customer intelligence solutions company for business-to-consumer companies including major retailers, restaurants, grocery and convenience stores, financial institutions, entertainment studios and consumer packaged goods companies. Market Force Information has pioneered the industry with a suite of customer intelligence solutions that provide clients with the business intelligence they need to delight their customers and drive bottom-line results. The company measures store-level operations and customer attitudes through mystery shopping, customer feedback, market audits and merchandising services, with the analytics to drive targeted improvements. For more information, please visit: and follow us on Twitter @MarketForce.

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