Even if the iPhone steals Android users, Google still wins

Why users who migrate from Android to iOS are likely to continue using the same Google apps, just on a new device.

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If Apple is to stem its smartphone market share decline, the company has to find new customers, and most of those customers are currently Android users. According to Comscore’s July 2014 U.S. Smartphone Subscriber Market Share report, it won’t matter to Google if Apple succeeds in putting the iPhone 6 in the hands of former Android users. These users will bring Google’s mobile ecosystem with them because switching apps will be too difficult.

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According to the Comscore report, Google’s ecosystem holds four of the top five smartphone apps, with Facebook holding the No. 1 spot. Google holds six places out of the top 15, compared to Apple’s two spots in the bottom third.

To minimize the pain of transition, Apple’s new users could install many of the Google Apps for iOS because their data is stored in Google’s cloud. Contacts, email, documents, images; all are in Google’s cloud. Google Drive storage, at 15 GB, is three times greater than its iCloud competitor, so there’s no gain to be had moving the data to a smaller repository.

Apple’s Android migration problem is Google Play Services and preloaded Google apps that ship on most Android devices in the developed markets. Migration to a new Android smartphone is simple – login with a Gmail account and Play services syncs the new device with the user’s data and apps from the old device. The Samsung Note 4 beats the iPhone 6 on spec and doesn’t include the tedium of moving data, installing Google’s mobile app suite one at a time, and finding iOS apps to replace the Android apps left behind.

Most users, with large MP3 music collections that were stored in iTunes and moved to Google Play Music, PowerAmp, or the n7player, experienced the tedium of the migration that they will need to repeat for all of its users’ mobile data, music, and images moving to iOS.

Given the very competitive and often superior Android devices compared to the iPhone 6, the only reason to make this move is if the user is the Android odd man out in a large social group that uses iChat. iChat messaging is frustrating for Android users. Like everything else Apple (except iTunes), iChat is only available on Apple devices. For Android users, iChat messages are converted into individual SMS messages, making it impossible to follow a group conversation.

If Apple had an ecosystem like or better than Google’s, Google would have something to lose. But it doesn’t. Google will still get the search traffic and other valuable user data derived from apps like the Chrome Browser, Google Maps, and Gmail. Because Google doesn’t make smartphones, the company isn’t concerned with device revenues, only mobile search, advertising, and data. Users who choose to migrate to an overpriced iPhone because they perceive it to be more stylish or want in on iChat group messaging aren’t much of a loss to Google.

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