Yesterday, I ended up going to the Golden Corral for lunch. It is not what I wanted. It just happened to be the best of the poor choices available to me within easy reach. For that reason, it has become our goto place. We have no loyalty or sentimental attachment to it. In fact, we have come to resent it for a number of reasons. Just as soon as a better option becomes available, that will be our goto place. According to a couple of recent reports, that is exactly how people around the world feel about Android.

Apple's iPhone takes 80 percent of China's booming premium phone market

"The market for budget Android phones is strong in China, with 57 percent of devices under the $330 price range," Umeng stated. "However, over a quarter are using high end smartphones costing over $500; 80 percent of these are iPhones." 

The firm also notes that the market for users new to smartphones is shrinking, and that a much larger percentage of smartphones are now upgrades for existing users, a trend that would appear to benefit higher end devices rather than cheap, entry level offerings.

The article reveals an incredible, untold story of the smartphone market in China. Be sure to read the full article from the link above. For the purposes if this piece, the takeaway is that as soon as people can afford it, they buy the things they really want. Those things are almost never the junk brands they had when they were poor. As in the rest of the world. Chinese smartphone buyers of means choose iPhones by an overwhelming margin. Second place isn't even close. Android is the choice of those with no choice.

Apple's iPhone is most-desired smartphone in emerging markets, passing Samsung

While many customers in emerging markets may not be able to afford Apple's iPhone, they'd still prefer it over competing devices running Google's Android, recent statistics show.

Consumers in Brazil, China, India, Nigeria and Vietnam were polled by Upstream and Ovum about their smartphone of choice, and the results show that Apple is the most desired brand among consumers, with a 32 percent share. Samsung came in second with 29 percent, followed by Nokia in third with 13 percent.

The results of the survey, highlighted this week by Bloomberg, show that Samsung was topped from the top spot by Apple in 2013. It also indicates that although many customers in those markets cannot afford an iPhone, they would prefer to buy one if they could. Consumer desire for Samsung phones in emerging markets fell 32% to 29% in 2013, while Apple surged from 21% to 32%.

Other researchers in other parts of the world are looking at the same data from different angles, and are telling us the same thing. People who can afford them mainly buy iPhones. People who can't afford them mostly want iPhones, and will buy them as soon as they can. I suspect that the desirability of Samsung products in third-world countries is tied to what people know and what they can imagine. Unless you are already wealthy, you don't picture yourself owning the most expensive car and a 10,000 sf palace. All I want is a mid-range Ford and a 1,500 sf house in a decent neighborhood. Both would be a major step up for me. If I had those things, my wants would be a bit more exotic. 

This is all very bad news for Android. The smartphone market is maturing, even in developing markets. People are starting to picture themselves in a position of owning an iPhone. They are already planing their second and third device. In their minds, it is the iPhone and not an improved version of the thing they have. They have no loyalty or emotional attachment to the square of glass they are currently holding, and will drop it in the landfill just as soon as their grasp equals their reach. 

David Johnson

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