Are you too invested in an ecosystem to switch platforms?

By | 9th March 2018
Google Pixel 2 XL

Recently, the Consumer Intelligence Research Partners put out a report that indicated Android's user base is very loyal to the platform. The major takeaway for the majority of coverage was that while Apple might tout its own customer satisfaction on a semi-regular basis (which is admittedly very high!), in this particular report reflecting the smartphone adoption of 500 individuals, Android customer retention is even better than iOS.

The reality is that both Android and iOS customers appear to be very happy with the devices they are buying.

For Google and Apple, though, it indicates a tougher battle for each platform moving forward. CIRP's data shows us what we already knew: Android and iOS are the two options in the smartphone market these days, which means Apple doesn't need to convince Windows Phone users that iOS is a better option, and Android doesn't need to try and sway BlackBerry device owners that they can get more out of their phones by making the jump.

What I found most interesting from the report, though, wasn't so much the customer retention numbers -- the sample size was only 500 people, after all. It wasn't the fact that CIRP notes that Android customers might be more loyal to the platform because they can try so many different devices from so many different manufacturers without abandoning the Android platform altogether, either.

What grabbed my attention and got me curious was another seemingly obvious observation: These customers are investing themselves into an ecosystem of devices and software, which makes jumping ship to a competing option a far less tempting consideration. The ecosystems are one of the leading factors in making sure people don't switch platforms. It isn't just about the phone anymore.

Which certainly makes sense. It feels like forever ago that when we were talking about switching from one platform to another it was just about the phone. And then, eventually, it was about apps, and how you might have to buy all of those apps you bought on iOS for Android again, because you decided to switch. Now, all these years later and with so many devices out there, the ecosystems are more complicated.

They are also time- and money-sinks, which can be hard to break away from.

The money is probably the most difficult thing to come to terms with. If you are wholly invested in the Apple ecosystem, which Apple has designed to work best (and sometimes, only) with its own products, then jumping ship to Android means you need to replace basically everything to make sure it all works like it should. Of course, if you're switching from Android to iOS you might not have that hard of a time, because Android is designed to work with so many different things and technologies, and apps are typically universal in their outreach to accessories beyond the phone.

I've given the idea of switching from a Mac to a Windows PC before, even as recently as the end of last year, but ultimately I don't want to make the switch. Some has to do with hardware (but this has weakened, thanks to some top-tier hardware choices in Windows Land), but most of it comes down to the ecosystem. I don't want to lose some apps I use every day, and the alternatives I've found on Windows don't entice me at all. And using an iPhone with a Mac is great, and if I want that same functionality, or close to it, I'll need to switch to an Android smartphone for my daily driver with that Windows PC.

I switch to Android often enough, though, that the app situation isn't that bad. The disparity between the two platforms is pretty minimal, in terms of apps owned on each, so that particular reasoning wouldn't hold for long.

I want to hear from you all. Are you so invested in your current platform choice that you would never consider switching to another? Or do you find yourself frequently moving from one platform to another? Let me know!