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Once again, more customers switching from Android to iPhone than ever before

During his opening remarks for Apple's Q4, 2016 conference call, CEO Tim Cook once again identified Android switchers as a source of growth for the iPhone business. And one that's continuing to grow.

As you know, iPhone customers are the most satisfied and loyal customers in the world, and fiscal 2016 saw more customers switch from Android to iPhone than ever before. This is due to the superior customer experience we deliver with our products, and it's something no other company can match.

I've got a pet theory that if people just walk into carrier stores and want an inexpensive phone, maybe one that does Facebook or Snapchat or whatever the internet and messaging is to them, they'll leave with Android. If they're a little more cautious, and want something that eases them into modern phones, they'll leave with iPhone.

Other people want an experience they can control and a device they can tinker with. For them, Android and its numerous manufacturing partners are a deliberate choice. But when people no longer want to work for their experience, and want that experience to work for them, iPhone again becomes a deliberate choice.

It goes back to what Cook has said in the past, that Apple doesn't need to be everyone's first phone, but if they're not, Apple wants to be their second or third. In other words, instead of being everyone's jump-in point, Apple wants to be everyone's landing.

Things like consistently reliable updates that are pushed to all customers, on every carrier, in every region, all at the same time, all the time, plays into that. So does the service provided by Apple Store and AppleCare, and the ecosystem of other Apple products that becomes more valuable the more you add — see Apple Watch, Apple TV, and Apple Music.

That Cook keeps saying the number of Android-to-iPhone switchers is growing is also telling. When and if that slows down, it'll be telling. That it hasn't so far is equally telling.

Read: Here's why iMore readers switched from Samsung Galaxy phones to iPhone?

Rene Ritchie
Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

75 Comments
  • I'm just moving from Android to a shiny new 7 Plus myself. I had been planning on a shiny new Note 7, but...
  • Well, there's always this if you still want the Note 7 experience;
    https://www.uniqfind.com/collections/all/products/explo-sung-iphone-skin
  • If only Apple would build and ship my phone already.... open open open.
  • This. No phones available. The shipping dates are pushed so far back that it makes no sense for me to order. I prefer to wait and see, what releases early next year. I really want Samsung to build a 5.5" Galaxy S device with high internal storage (at least 64GB) and an SD Card slot. I'll buy that. A big reason why I moved to iOS was for app support. There were virtually no Video Analysis apps on the platform when I moved over. But since then, both Coach's Eye, and Dartfish Express have moved over to Android and offer comparable UX without the iPhone's issues (like apps not being updated for higher screen resolutions,, something that happens fairly automatically on Android devices). Ubersense is there, as well (called Hudl Technique now). Apart from the lack of apps I absolutely needed, to avoid double-fisting devices; my Note 3 was flawless, and the 4 was looking even better (as an upgrade) when I got the iPhone 6 Plus. Since getting an iPhone I've had to deal with Photos bugs, in accessible content, lots of upscaled apps (some still haven't been updated for Plus' screen resolutions), one of the worst music services I've ever tried (completely trashing my library and requiring me to restore from a Windows PC), and the complete trashing of the Music app on the phone (doesn't show all of my albums/tracks, even though I can search to surface them and they're definitely on the device; no longer can tap on an album art in the List of Albums to play that album (more taps to do something simple), etc.). I'm disillusioned, at this point.
  • I switched from Windows phone to iPhone. I wonder what the statistics on how many people switch from Windows to iPhone. Sent from the iMore App
  • All three of them. Sent from the iMore App
  • Lol. Sent from the iMore App
  • Lol!! Sent from the iMore App
  • XD
  • Yes, I would like to see this.
    The two systems do have a number of similarities. I originally switched from Windows Phone, but I missed having the most basic level of customization, aside from wallpaper. However, iOS is far from dead to me.
  • You are not alone. My bro in law who is a die hard MS guy is going to switch in May if MS dont release a great new phone by then. The lack of apps and no new premium phone is alienating what little customer MS phone has.
  • Look at worldwide numbers and market share, Rene. Quite the opposite when you look at global market share. Posted from my Nexus 6P
  • It still continues to grow, at a slower pace if you count the global market share, but still growing
  • Android growing. Apple shrinking. It's Google's world, now.
  • I've not seen any evidence that Apple is "shrinking". What I do know is that I still see and know plenty of people using iPhones, they certainly aren't going anywhere
  • I have the matte black 7 with 256 GB. I like this phone. I do. But I also like android. Like I've always done in the past....I'll switch back to android then back to iPhone....back to android and so forth. Sent from the iMore App
  • The worldwide data trend outside of the US is that the premium and mid-range Android market is growing faster than the iPhone market is growing. This according to iMore's sister site, Android Central, which on the whole is significantly less biased than Rene. Keep in mind that outside of Samsung's huge success this year with the S7 until the Note thing, there are also many cheap alternatives in Android that are pretty **** close to the iPhone and high end Samsungs, and in countries like India, where the pricing is significantly higher compared to salaries, that has a huge impact. The OnePlus 3 is a reasonable competitor to the iPhone 7 Plus at $400. Written from my iPhone 7 Plus (which replaced by Note7) Sent from the iMore App
  • That doesn't necessarily negate Tim Cook's statement. If developing countries like India are adding many 10s of millions of new devices almost entirely Android the overall Android market share is growing and Apple's is declining. But that doesn't mean there are aren't more and more users switching from Android to Apple. Certainly Rene is providing the most positive spin possible for Apple's performance in the market. However that doesn't make that commentary that more users are switching from android to iphone incorrect.
  • This^^^^^^^^
  • Until they start showing actual numbers, this "Android switchers" argument will always be nothing but good spin to me. How much is many switchers to them? 20% of all sales? 5%? 1%? If last year 1% of all sales came from switchers and this year it's 1.1%, then, yes, technically this was the best year in this regard. Context is important...
  • How do they know they are android switchers. Is it because they use the android to iphone app on the play store. Just wondering. Sent from the iMore App
  • They can probably find out through the phone networks, or via people's SIM cards (history of being registered in another phone)
  • You got there before me. The article claims that more and more people are switching from Android, yet the only numbers written in the entire piece are 2016 and (Q)4. Sitting out statistical claims is meaningless without numbers.
  • doesn't matter, .1% still more than last year as long as they are more this year than the year before it is all that matter. anything else is just haters talk
  • Worldwide market share data shows this simply isn't true. Posted from my Nexus 6P
  • Where are you getting this data from?
  • Market share has nothing to do with it. Sent from the iMore App
  • 64% of all statistics are completely made up. Sent from the iMore App
  • Including this one
  • And 50% are wrong. Sent from the iMore App
  • I'm enjoying my first iPhone since the 4 and must say there's a world of difference between that and the 6S plus. Kudos to Apple Store staff for making it a great place. Not only Apple Store but Apple's Twitter and call-in support is great too. Very helpful and positive. Thanks, people!
  • I agree. iPhone wasn't my second or third but it will be my last. I'm happy with what I get for my money and the ecosystem as well.
  • It's been my 12th, 19th, 32nd, and oh well I've lost track how many phones I've had, but I won't know if it'll be my last until I see what new tech is available next time........and the next after that....and Sent from the iMore App
  • iPhone is my 2nd, 3rd and 4th. I am never going back to Android.
  • and apple really needs it more than ever
  • It's been at least a year since Tim Cook started talking about people switching from android to iOS, and it has been a year since iPhone sales started declining and iOS losing market share. So I figure that for every 1 person switching from android to iOS there must be at least 2 doing the opposite.
  • This Posted from my Nexus 6P
  • I guess spinning this where .01% more switched is still more, but the market share doesn't lie.
    Apple loses more market share each year and android gains.
    If apple would give a few android options to iOS, they could stop losing market share.
    Native app choice, real on screen widgets, stupid auto arrange (icons)
    Neither of these have to be used, but could be options for advanced users without changing iOS for those who don't want anything but what apple tells them they want.
    I want more Options in iOS. Android has awesome options but a buggy, no updating OS.
    Android can't even send pictures reliably. Trust me, I have had every kind of android phone you can think of, and 10% of the time, pictures just don't work. or texts send twice, Terrible experience.
  • Apple is losing market share but I'm not seeing any evidence it's from people fed up with iOS being stale with a launcher that hasn't evolved much at all in the last decade or for any other reasons. They are losing market share because they don't make phones most of the world can afford. Countries like India are bringing on many 10s of millions of users each year and iPhone is simply irrelevant in markets like those due to cost. Apple's overall market share is going to continue to plummet year after year as those user get smartphones. However I'm not sure that overall marketshare will in any way will negatively impact their bottom line - at least in the next few years.
  • Me and my wife had the Galaxy Nexus phones. Sending pictures to each other rarely work using the bumping phones to send. Now on our iPhone airdrop is awesome. Only time we had problems with it was when we had to change airdrop to accept from all instead of just contacts for it to go through when we bought our iPhone 6 and 6 plus.
  • LOL......Sales are dropping and Android is now at 86% worldwide.....where are these switchers coming from? How many are leaving IOS to go to Android?
  • i switched 2 from WM10. Loved the wm10 expierience, but hated the lack of app support.
    And i hate android so Hello Iphone 7 Plus and i love this phone :)
  • I only know 2 windows phone users. One switched to iPhone and the other one is considering it come May. I asked him why iPhone and not Android and he replied because Android is like the wild wild west.
  • I switched from Windows phone to Android a year ago. I was given a battered 5c to use in March. I now have a shiny SE. Why didn't I listen to all my apple using friends years ago. Sent from the iMore App
  • I used to make fun of the Apple lovers but after Android disappointing to deliver their many promises I finally switched to IOS and never looked back.
  • "If they're a little more cautious, and want something that eases them into modern phones, they'll leave with iPhone." Use the indefinite article! They "leave with an iPhone" not "leave with iPhone". Sheesh! Sent from the iMore App
  • The way it's written in the article is the way Apple uses it. "This is iPhone 7.", "Buy iPhone 7 today"
  • That doesn't make it acceptable English, just lazy recycling of Apple marketing doublespeak.
  • THANK YOU. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.
    It's bad enough that Apple marketing has decided that their products are so wonderful that they are no longer bound by the rules of English grammar. That's stupid, but so is a lot of marketing. But there is no excuse -- none -- for people who call themselves journalists to incorporate Apple's mangled grammar into their writing. I have three things in my pocket right now -- a wallet, a set of keys, and an iPhone. Not "a wallet, a set of keys, and iPhone."
  • I'm yet to recover from the iPod Touch being marketed as the "funnest iPod ever" .
  • True, though an Apple-related website might want to use Apple's grammar, no matter how backwards it is, to stay true to their branding
  • Dumb phone -> Android -> Dumb phone -> Android -> Windows Phone -> Android -> iPhone That's how I arrived with an iPhone. I don't miss Android all that much.
  • just switched from IPhone 5s which I was using for a month back to Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and it feels like coming back home. No, 5s is a great and smooth and so on but 'East or West, home is best'..
  • If you want Android? Pixel XL is your best bet, stock Android without all the crap.
  • I totally agree. Hopefully it works better than my experience with the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. It was enough to push me to the dark side of IOS.
  • I went from iphone after 8 years to Android with the Note 7 , switched back to the iphone 7 after the recall and ended up going to a Galaxy S7 after the second recall Note 7. I love it. iPhone works well, is easy and all but stale and the specs on it are 4 years old. It's sad. I like the difference of Android. Also, where does Cook get these numbers of people switching? Word of mouth? He needs to back it up with figures and how they derived them. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • The specs on the iPhone certainly aren't 4 years old, but in any case since iOS is designed specifically for the hardware it runs on, it runs smoother and faster without needing great specs. There's also things like the bad memory management on Android, where Android requires more RAM than iOS to get a nice experience out of it
  • Not to mention, Apple chips are tops. Just look at the benchmarks for the A10 Fusion on the 7's. Anyone who says Apple specs are behind simply isn't paying attention or hasn't done enough research. Now do Apple devices tend to have less RAM, yes, but as you mentioned, iOS' memory management is better.
  • Everyone' preference is different but I am an old guy so I just want something that flat out works. No mods, no installing volume booster or waiting for updates\bug fixes that never come.
  • Yet iPhone sales are declining. Apple's problem is that the people switching from Android to iPhone are mostly switching from the flagship end of Android, which is really just a small percentage of total Android's total market share. The flagship $600+ smartphone market is already saturated, especially in Apple's "first tier" countries like the US, UK, Singapore, Japan, Australia, etc. China is probably the exception here, but they have a lot of local brands that pump out flagship spec phones for mid-price money, which Apple can't compete with. The other thing that's been hurting iPhone sales (which economist sites often mention but tech bloggers ignore, for unknown reasons) over the last couple of years has been the strength of the US dollar. Then you have the shrinking carrier subsidized market, which again, has been a popular route for people in the "first tier" countries I mentioned above.
  • That is true to an extent but as recent promotions show carriers always value Apple users more so they offer things like free iPhone 7 to get those customers.
  • I know I can't use merely the 100+ employees in my office as an example. But, we have countless MORE Android users that we do iOS users. However, it would be nice to see real up to date statistics (we know that will never happen), but...
  • My non-scientific test is seeing which models folks are rocking on The Tube (it was a good way of realising that the Apple Watch was a relative flop for Apple). So far there seems to be fewer folks using a 7/Plus than when the 6/Plus was launched (it's nigh on impossible to tell during an 'S' tock year, natch).
  • On top of that, they've made it impossible for many people to even get a 7, by limiting the production. I would have upgraded, cause why not, but it's impossible to get one before the second week of December here. By the time the second week of December gets here, I won't want one. It will be "old news" by then and those rumors of the Galaxy S 8 having a 5.5" screen is really singing to me. I'm going to hold off for that. I have ean iMac, but I think I'm going to boot camp Windows on that quite soon, and just keep a bare minimum 128GB Partition (out of 1TB) for macOS, which I will probably stop using on it except to update the OS.
  • Honestly I went from a 6s Plus to a Note7 but we know how that turned out and when faced with the decision to pick out another device I immediately went with the iPhone 7 Plus mainly because with all the OEMs out their yes they're phone have improved in build quality and functionality but I always find myself setting up my Android device the same way over and over again over the years and it's become a very time consuming process, with my iPhone the app support and reliability is second to none and find that the device works more for me than me working to get the device just right.
  • You should have went to the Pixel XL.
  • Bring on the Haters/non Apple people.
  • There are roughly 3X as many Android users as there are iOS users. This comes from most data suggesting that iOS has ~25% market share and Android about 75% market share. If the percentage of people switching platforms is constant then 3X as many will have left android. The statistic of "more" are switching to android is virtually meaningless without a good description of the methodology used to track the switching. My iPhone was forced on me by my employer. I use Android and BB10 by choice. How does Apple track a user like me switching? The stat is meaningless marketing speak.
  • I love marketing spin. All companies do it. Not knocking Apple specifically. It struck me funny with the "if you want to work for your experience you'll pick Android" comment. I mean okay, sure, I've moved a couple of icons on my homepage to make it look the way I want but in - what - seven years of using Android I can't say I've ever had to "work and tinker" to get the experience I want. It's nice to have the option when I want to try something different but Android pretty much just works the way it's delivered to me. Been using Apple phones just as long... though mostly for the enterprise (yes, the spaceship) where they work best.
  • I have an iPhone for work and every time I am forced to use it, I love my Android even more.
  • Sure there may be lots of people that switch from Android to iPhone but they fail to compare that to the amount of people that switch from iPhone to Android. I was an android user for many years, I only switched to iPhone only because the new company I started to work for gave me two options: Switch my Android to and iPhone or carry two phones (one personal one business). I was not carrying two phones around with me. This was only because their "IT security" plicy stated that if I wanted to recieve emails on my device, it had to be a Blackberry or iPhone. If the company ever changes the policy or I leave, I will switch back to Android in a heart beat
  • I switched from a Samsung S5 to an iPhone 6 two years ago, and will be moving to the new iPhone 7 Plus Jet Black in November...no regrets. I still love my Google apps though.
  • "If they're a little more cautious, and want something that eases them into modern phones, they'll leave with iPhone." If they can afford one; most people can't. Apple stores would probably be nice -- if they existed outside a handful of countries. I have never visited one in my life. I have only ever seen pictures of them. That much for that, eh, support...
  • By the way, if people are switching to iPhones in droves, why are iPhone sales not going up, but are rather going down? That equation makes no sense. Perchance more people are moving off the iPhone than are moving in.
  • I don't care how many people switch from Android. I care about them updating macOS in a non-ignorable way. Someone can put my phone back on Yosemite and apart from the lack of "Photos," I'd struggle to notice the difference. macOS is so stagnant it isn't even funny. I've only held off of putting Windows 10 on it (Boot Camp) out of sheer laziness thus far (and from the fear that it would end up, practically, becoming a full time Windows PC). iOS needs to be opened up a little. It's becoming inconvenient to use my phone as I become more of a power user with more strict workflow-oriented things going on. Background uploads for 3rd party apps, for example... This needs a serious upgrade. I'm really eying Android. The only reason why I haven't moved over is because I have an iMac, but I've already installed and verified Windows 10 before the promotion ended (as a result, I can just install it on my Mac in Bootcamp again, and it should just run without having to pay anything), so that is easy to remedy if I decide to not be lazy one afternoon...