Google has bigger problems than iMessage making Android users switch to iPhone

More people are switching from Android to iPhone than vice versa, and it always has been. Apple’s iMessage has been seen as a key product that can persuade consumers to switch from an Android phone to an iPhone. And Google’s relentless, unsuccessful, and slightly embarrassing campaign to shame Apple into supporting RCS in the iPhone’s Messages app backs up that notion.

But new research shows that Google still has bigger problems to solve. iMessage is the least of Google’s woes, as Android switchers have bigger reasons to switch to iPhone.

Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) wrote a follow-up to one of its previous reports and is now offering real figures. They’re still estimates, mind you, but we have more to work with now than we did after the company’s initial report.

The CIRP said a few days ago that between 10% and 15% of new iPhone buyers in the US come from Android. The rate has remained constant in recent years, but has increased in recent quarters. In the 12 months ending March 2023, approximately 15% of iPhone buyers came from Android.

Google Pixel 7a front
Google Pixel 7a screen. Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

CIRP then asked Android switchers why they switched to iPhone and published the details in a follow-up report.

The company explains that some switchers have been unable to explain why they switched operating systems. They just “wanted something new”. But others have actually explained why they ditched Google’s Android in favor of Apple’s iPhones.

According to the CIRP, these are the four main categories of people who have switched from Android to iPhone:

  • Previous phone issues: Their old phone didn’t work, either because it was outdated, needed repairs, or had some defect that affected their user experience
  • New phone features: They wanted more and different ways to use their smartphone, such as a better camera, improved accessory options, or a more intuitive user interface
  • Cost: They may spend less on a new iPhone than they expected, or on a comparable Android smartphone
  • Community connection: They wanted a smartphone that integrated with family and friends, including using iMessage and FaceTime on iOS

I’m not surprised to see iMessage in the list of reasons to switch to iPhone. The chat app has been perceived as one of Apple’s main weapons to keep users loyal to iOS and convince others to get an iPhone. But I was surprised to see the percentages for these categories.

As you’ll see in the chart below, only about 6% of people fall into that fourth category, which mentions accessing iMessage and FaceTime.

The reasons why Android switches to iPhone according to the CIRP.
The reasons why Android switches to iPhone according to the CIRP. Image source: CIRP

The vast majority of Android switchers have had problems with their Android devices (53%). New phone features came in second at 26%, while cost was a surprising third at 15%.

The pricing concerns were surprising because iPhones are expensive. But Apple sells older phones that are cheaper and yet outperform newer Android devices. Add in the promotional offers offered by Apple and the offers from the carrier that often offer free iPhone upgrades and the cost will make sense.

Surveys such as the one by CIRP may not always provide the most accurate picture. But the report shows that the iMessage blue bubbles that Google is battling aren’t necessarily the biggest problem for most Android switchers. Issues like quality of android and android devices could be bigger problems.

What Google can fix here is the operating system so that it can make Android as attractive as possible to users. But, as we have seen, that is not enough. Even longtime Android users are not happy with the overall Android app experience.

As far as hardware quality is concerned, Google can only check its Pixel devices. And Pixel devices have always had software and hardware problems.

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