My post about reasons for switching to iPhone from Android spurred many comments, including quite a few that went to “what kind of person you must be to have made that decision” [some a bit less than flattering]. This made me wonder how, in actual fact, people who prefer the iPhone differ from people who prefer Android. In particular, I’m impressed that iPhone holds a strong lead over Android in app quality several years after Android surpassed iPhone in market share: new apps and new features keep arriving on iPhone well before Android. What might the characteristics of iPhone users tell me about why that happens, and how long it is likely to last?
I turned to a market research tool called CivicScience(1) that is very well suited to answering these questions. CivicScience constantly runs surveys on hundreds of web sites, asking questions about products, preferences, and respondents’ backgrounds. They have compiled a database of over 300 million responses from 27 million people. I searched this database, looking for relationships between consumers’ preference for iPhone versus Android, their preferences for other products, and their demographics.
The results take the form of “over-weights” and “under-weights”. For example, the U.S. adult population is 49% male and 51% female. However, the survey data shows that adults who prefer Android (“Android people”) are 56% male and 44% female. If gender were not a factor in Android preference, 49% of Android people would be male, the same percentage that males represent in the total adult population. The actual result of 56% indicates that gender is a factor in Android preference, and the ratio of 56/49 indicates how strong a factor. 56 is 14% more than 49; in the parlance, Android people “over-weight” for male gender by 14%. Traits for which iPhone or Android users over- or under-weight reveal the characteristics of people who prefer each product.(2)
Characteristics of iPhone people versus Android people:
And, a few to ponder:
Both iPhone and Android people are affluent, educated, eager digital device consumers, and well-represented across the adult age spectrum up to 65.
Android people include more hard-core techies: they work in technical jobs and are more comfortable with the more open but less polished Android user experience. And they are less affluent, so the generally lower price of Android phones appeals to them more. Perhaps we are seeing some of the “bro-grammer” culture here: male, deeply technical, and hard-drinking.
iPhone people are a notch up the socio-economic scale: higher income, higher education, higher representation in professional and managerial jobs. They are tech enthusiasts, but more as consumers than producers: a big over-weight for digital device addiction, but none for technical jobs.
Why does Apple retain the lead in app quality? The homogeneity of the iOS platform is one big reason: it’s much harder to develop for Android due to its many software and hardware variants. This data sheds light on another big reason. iPhone is where the money is, and iPhone people are the most enthusiastic tech adopters. These two factors indicate that Apple’s app lead will persist: the problem with Android fragmentation is not going away fast [if at all], and Apple has a strong franchise with the most valuable customers.