In what could be good news for Android-based phone makers, it appears that Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) poaching of customers from other platforms has slowed down this year. According to a new survey from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, fewer iPhone customers came from outside the Apple ecosystem during this year’s iPhone 5S/5C launch than they did during last year’s iPhone 5 launch.
CIRP surveyed buyers of Apple’s iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C in order to identify the type of device they previously owned. According to CIRP’s survey, approximately two-thirds of iPhone 5S/5C buyers previously owned an iPhone. Last year, only 55 percent of iPhone 5 buyers previously owned an iPhone. However, the survey results do not necessarily mean that Apple is losing its ability to attract new users to its ecosystem. The decline may simply be due to a smaller overall base of first time smartphone buyers.
“Ideally, Apple attracts a significant percent of its customers from Android and other systems,” noted CIRP partner and co-founder Mike Levin. “At the most recent launch, though, Apple saw an increase in the share of customers that already had an iPhone. Perhaps because of the declining base of non-smartphone owners, a smaller percentage of iPhone buyers upgraded from a basic or flip phone, compared to the year-ago launch.”
CIRP’s survey also found that fewer new iPhone buyers were upgrading from the last flagship iPhone model. According to the survey data, only 6 percent of iPhone 5S/5C buyers were upgrading from the iPhone 5. On the other hand, 12 percent of iPhone 5 buyers last year were upgrading from the iPhone 4S. “We see a noticeable decrease in the number of iPhone buyers that seem to want the latest, most advanced phone,” noted CIRP partner and co-founder Josh Lowitz.
According to market research firm Counterpoint, Apple became the No. 1 smartphone vendor in the U.S. when it released its new iPhones during the month of September. Apple captured 39 percent of the U.S. smartphone market, replacing the previous leader, Samsung (SSNLF.PK). Like CIRP, Counterpoint cited Apple’s returning customers as the primary driver behind its iPhone 5S/5C sales.
“The key reason for this sudden jump in sales can be attributed to the big wave of upgrades due in this launch month from Apple’s huge installed base of iPhone users in US,” noted Counterpoint’s Tom Kang. “This depicts a healthy replacement cycle and user base growth trends for Apple despite the array of Android devices launching from tens of OEMs every month.”
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