Moving from an iOS device to Android won’t become much easier, despite an earlier report to the contrary.
Apple (AAPL) denied claims on Monday that it had quietly agreed to develop an app that would make it easier for current iOS owners to switch to Android-based devices.
The Telegraph reported on Monday that Apple had struck a deal with European telecoms, which have grown increasingly concerned with how difficult it is for customers to move away from an iPhone. More specifically, the report claimed the telecoms believe Apple has made it too difficult to move contacts, music, and photos to Android, effectively locking customers into iPhones each upgrade cycle.
Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller told Fortune on Monday, that it has no plans to develop any such app, saying “there is no truth to this rumor.”
“We are entirely focused on switching users from Android to iPhone, and that is going great,” she added.
Apple has been criticized for years for making it too difficult for its users to move from its platforms. Dating back to the iPod, the company has used proprietary file formats and connectors, and there is no sign of those efforts slowing down.
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While Apple has not said it tries to force people to continue using its products, at least in private, the company seems to believe it may be a good idea.
In 2010, Apple co-founder and then-CEO Steve Jobs issued an e-mail to employees outlining the itinerary from company’s annual Top 100 meeting, an event for its top 100 employees. In that e-mail, Jobs wrote that Apple must “tie all of our products together, so we further lock customers into our ecosystem.”
Since then, the company has done little to prove it still doesn’t think that way. The company continues to deliver proprietary software locked only to its own devices and the data running on that software is optimized for its platforms. Apple has said that such moves ensure that its products work more effectively. Critics say it’s Apple’s way of controlling its customers.
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Yet Apple is not alone in trying to protect its customer base. Nearly every major company attempts to keep customers invested in their platforms in one form or another. IBM (IBM), for instance, was long criticized for attempting to lock customers into its own products and not supporting competitors’ products. Google (GOOG) has been criticized for requiring users have a Google account in order to access its services.
But whether Apple is truly locking customers into its platforms is up for debate.
According to data (PDF) released in August by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP), 78% of iOS users stuck with the operating system after given an opportunity to buy a new handset. The study, which looked at the period between July 2013 and June 2015, found that 82% of Android owners stayed with that operating system. The research firm even threw cold water on the idea that Apple is controlling users through its “ecosystem.”
“Conventional wisdom says the Apple ‘ecosystem’ promotes loyalty, while Android readily gives up users to iOS,” CIRP co-founder Josh Lowitz said in a statement. “Our analysis has a more nuanced view on operating system selection.”
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Lowitz’s co-founder, Mark Levin, added that CIRP’s study of 4,000 users found that those people were generally unable to “articulate why they like one or another operating system.” Only one variable—switching to a different carrier—stuck out to CIRP.
“The time a user switches mobile carriers also is a logical time to switch operating systems,” Levin said in a statement. “Our analysis suggests that switching mobile carriers correlates with iOS users switching to Android, but not Android users to switching to iOS.”
So, it’s possible that if the European carriers truly believe what The Telegraph’s sources say, they may be chasing something that does not exist, or is at the very least, not as big of an issue as they claim.
Ironically, Apple isn’t against the idea of switching. The company has developed an Android-based app called Move to iOS, that makes it easier for users to jump to iOS.