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New Report Reveals that 27% of Android Smartphone Owners Switched to the iPhone & Sees Momentum for the iPhone 6s


According to a new analytical report published today, the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus have so far combined to make up 24% of all iPhones in use in both the US and China, Apple's two most important markets. These numbers only confirm how strong the demand for these two products has been. Although the iPhone 5s performed in a similarly robust way in the US, that wasn't the case in China. In the US, the iPhone 5s and 5c reached 29% market share over the same period of time in 2014. But in China, the strong market preference for larger-screen devices is made clear by the fact that the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c together reached just 12% of the installed base over the same time period.


Several industry analysts have painted a gloomy picture for Apple's new iPhones and a rocky 2016 because the demand was so high for Apple's iPhone 6 and 6-Plus in 2015. However, Kantar's Chief of Research & Head of US Business Carolina Milanesi thinks differently. Milanesi says that once you dig deeper into the numbers, things don't look as bleak as some would have you believe.


During Apple's last Financial Conference Call, Apple's CEO Tim Cook noted that Apple had another stellar quarter for iPhone sales establishing a new June Quarter record. Apple's iPhone unit sales grew 35% which is almost 3X the rate of growth of the smartphone market overall and gained share in all of their geographic segments. More importantly he stated that "73% of current iPhone users have yet to upgrade to the iPhone 6 and so there's tremendous growth potential for the iPhone 6 ahead." This is a position that Milanesi says the data supports.


The US Market


The average US smartphone user keeps their device for about 22 months before replacing it with a newer model. The longest replacement cycles belong to Blackberry (32 months), while the shortest belong to Nokia/Microsoft Lumia (16 months). Apple's average replacement cycle is 25 months.


Since September 2014, 32% of US iPhone owners have replaced their devices. Among those users, 47% replaced their phones with an iPhone 6, and 16% with a 6 Plus. In comparing the similar period one year ago, from September 2013 to July 2014, we see that only 22% of iPhone users upgraded their devices. Of those who did, 44% upgraded to the 5s, and 17% to the 5c.


This data suggests Apple has ample opportunity for upgrades in 4Q15 and 2016. As in the previous year, upgrades will come not only from the new iPhone models, but from the current iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which should experience the drop in price we have seen in previous years for retiring flagship devices. In the US, 32% of iPhone 5s sales were generated after the launch of the iPhone 6 and, in the three months ending in July 2015, the iPhone 5s was still the fourth best-selling smartphone in the US.


Urban China


The average lifespan of a smartphone in urban China is a little shorter than in the US, about 20 months. The longest replacement cycles belong to Nokia (39 months) and the shortest to Xiaomi (12 months). Apple's average replacement cycle in urban China is 19 months.


Since September 2014, 18% of iPhone owners in urban China upgraded their devices. Among all the iPhone upgrades, 29% switched to the iPhone 6, and 24% to iPhone 6 Plus. If we compare these numbers to the period of September 2013 to July 2014, we see that only 12% of users upgraded their iPhones. Of those who did, 32% acquired an iPhone 5s, and 5% acquired an iPhone 5c.


As mentioned above, it is evident that screen size has far greater influence on smartphone purchasing decisions in China than in the US.


Kantar expects the success of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus to not only continue, but to accelerate as prices drop. For reference, it is interesting to note that 36% of total iPhone 5s sales in urban China were made after September 2014.


With 31% of existing US iPhone users and 32% of urban Chinese users acquiring their devices more than 24 months ago, Apple's iPhone replacement opportunity is certainly in no immediate danger.


Android Market Share in Europe Falls


In a secondary report, Kantar's latest smartphone sales data for the three months ending July 2015 shows continued market share losses for the Android OS across Europe's five largest markets (Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain).


An interesting factoid surfaced in the Kantar report. In the 3 months ending July 2015, 27% of smartphone buyers across Europe left Android for iOS versus 9% in the US." This trend was pointed out during Apple's last Financial Conference Call where Tim Cook noted that "strong iPhone results were broad based in both developed and emerging markets and they experienced the highest switcher rate in Android than they ever measured.


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