Forecast: Android has peaked, Apple’s iPhone still growing
FORTUNE — “Samsung’s Radio City Music Hall launch of its Galaxy S IV smartphone made good headlines, but consumer buying data shows that at the checkout counter, Apple continues to eat Samsung’s lunch.”
Howe’s bottom line: Google’s AAPL Android has probably peaked, while Apple’s AAPL iOS can look forward to steady growth.
The key, he says, is customer loyalty: “Apple’s ‘black hole’ ecosystem captures subscribers who never leave, while Android smartphones are losing one out of every six customers to other manufacturers.”
The operative metaphor, according to Howe, is a leaky bucket.
“Think of the Apple and Android ecosystems as two buckets of water. New smartphone buyers — mostly upgrading feature phone owners — fall like rain into the two big buckets about equally, with a smaller number falling into Windows Phone and BlackBerry buckets. However, the Android bucket leaks badly, losing about one in five of all the owners put into it. The Apple bucket leaks only about 7 percent of its contents, so it retains more of the customers that fall into it. The Apple bucket will fill up faster and higher than the Android one, regardless of the fact that the Apple bucket may have had fewer owners in it to begin with.”
As several readers have pointed out, the survey was of U.S. smartphone customers only. The findings should not be extrapolated to apply to the rest of the world.