Consumers prioritising smartphone OS over hardware more than ever

Consumers are now prioritising mobile operating systems more than ever in their purchasing decisions, which is worrying news for handset manufacturers which have traditionally relied on strong customer loyalty, according to research firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

The firm’s research shows that customers’ broader familiarity with the OS market is increasing at a fast pace, and operating systems are now almost on an equal footing with the handset brand for customers choosing a smartphone.

Today, 18 per cent of people now decide on a smartphone based solely upon the OS, up from 12 per cent six months previously.

Only 20 per cent, meanwhile, make a decision based on handset brands, down from 27per cent. And 50 per cent of customers now consider both factors when choosing a smartphone.

“In the past six months, OS providers have mounted an effective challenge to handset manufacturers’ brand loyalty,” explained Fiona Keenan, consumer insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

“Android in particular is a very popular choice, and many consumers prioritise this type of operating system over their choice of handset.”

She added that the trend is most worrying for HTC, where 29.7 per cent of their current users would choose a phone based on the OS, but only 6.5 per cent on the handset.

Keenan added that challenges lay ahead for handset manufacturers, as they must find new ways to create customer loyalty and affection for their brand.

“Although there are many consumers whose purchasing decisions are not yet influenced by OS, most customers are rapidly finding their feet in the expanding smartphone market,” she said. “84 per cent are aware that their smartphone has an operating system, up from 74 per cent six months before.”

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