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Is Android Losing the Smartphone War?

 

T-Mobile’s declaration earlier this week that the carrier would strike a deal with Apple for the iconic iPhone is one that will comfort many iOS fans and customers. T-Mobile reported earlier this year that it lost 700,000 customers to carriers like Verizon Wireless and AT&T because it did not sell the iPhone in its stores. T-Mobile CEO John Legere, in his presentation to parent company Deutsch Telekom, stated that some of T-Mobile’s customers would not visit T-Mobile stores because they lacked the one thing that those customers wanted to get their hands on: an Apple iPhone.

Jay Yarow, of Business Insider, took to the press two days ago to publish an article titled “Proof that Android is Losing The Smartphone War With The IPhone.” In this article, he points out a few factors that, for him, indicate that Android is lagging behind Apple and losing the smartphone war:

  • T-Mobile believes it needs the iPhone to remain competitive in the smartphone war.
  • T-Mobile’s 700,000-customer loss in Q4 of 2011.
  • Despite Android’s rise, customers are still choosing iPhones.

Let’s tackle each of these, one at a time. First, T-Mobile not only feels that it needs the iPhone to remain competitive; it feels this way about Android, too. When T-Mobile announced the arrival of its first Android smartphone, the T-Mobile G1, in New York in 2008, T-Mobile spokesperson Cole Bradman stated that “third party open applications [a trademark of the Android OS] will really drive the adoption of the mobile internet” (ZDNet). Bradman believed at the time that Android would increase love for mobile technology and the Internet. This was just one year after the iPhone arrived on the world market.

Android has come a long way since 2008. Samsung’s Galaxy S3, brought to the market this past summer (2012), has become one of the most popular-selling phones of all time. After all, Business Insider placed the Samsung Galaxy S3 amongst its top smartphone list. The S3 is still selling, even months after its release. The Korean manufacturer has sold 30 million phones and continues to sell. I spoke with my phone carrier recently and the representative told me that every shipment that comes in is sold within three hours or less. The LG Nexus 4, another Android phone, has such an increased demand for it that Google cannot get the phone back in stock fast enough to meet the large demand. The phone sold out of stock within fifteen minutes in the UK and Germany, and continues to sell out in the American market. Does this sound like Android is losing the smartphone war to you?

While it does not seem as though Android is losing the smartphone war, Apple is. Just last month, Forbes writer Parmy Olson wrote about a Strategy Analytics survey that shows that the number of iPhone loyals is in decline in both America and Europe: 13% of former iPhone users in Europe have departed from iOS, while 5% of American users have departed from iOS. Even as iPhones continue to sell, there are even tech contributors such as Ed Conway whose Dear Apple article shows that the Strategy Analytics survey statistics are genuine and accurate. While it may be true that customers are still choosing iPhones, there are customers who are no longer choosing iPhones, too.

Apple’s recent iOS6 Maps fiasco did not aid the company’s image, either. Just one week after Apple’s 3D maps and iOS6 were released, customers showed a disappointment with Apple’s maps and pressed to have Google Maps return to iOS. IOS6 brought forth not only terrible maps, but also other software glitches that it will take months to remove from the new operating system. While iOS6 has not been a major success with iOS users, Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) is greatly appreciated by Android users.

And what about the 700,000 customers who left T-Mobile? They left because they wanted an iPhone and the company did not supply it. How many customers still exist at T-Mobile, however? “700,000” is a significant number, but this number becomes miniscule when viewed as a percentage of T-Mobile’s customer base and not the majority of it.

I could say more along these lines, but time will not allow it. All of this is to say that Apple may still sell its iPhones by the millions, but customer loyalty is waning. Someday, if Cupertino isn’t careful, its sales may match customer loyalty trends.