At least two premium Android devices meant to bolster the OS against its leading competitor -- namely, Apple's mobile ecosystem -- appear to have done a far better job cannibalizing their counterparts than persuading iOS users. According to the latest report from Counterpoint Research, Google's Pixel 3 and the OnePlus 6T managed to draw the attention of mostly Samsung fans during Q4 2018.
For OnePlus, more than one in every three new purchases, around 37-percent, were previously Samsung owners. That carried over to the even more extreme side of things for the Google Pixel 3, which saw as many as 51-percent of its buyers coming from the Korean tech giant's user base. The former company managed to steal no fewer than 15-percent of its customers away from LG while the latter stole 14-percent of its gains from the Moto brand.
A further 32-percent of new owners of the OnePlus 6T for that period came from a collective of "other brands" compared to Google's 17-percent.
By contrast, of Google's new customers, just 18-percent were converted from Apple's mobile ecosystem while OnePlus managed just 16-percent.
What's going on here
The reason for the apparent trend in Android devices collectively eating their own is fairly easy to pin down. To begin with, the study focuses primarily on the US where Android's foothold isn't quite as well-established as it is globally. So the fact that over 80-percent of new sales on both devices that came from other Android OEMs may be at least partially attributed to that.
Perhaps more prominently, switching from one Android gadget to another is a much less daunting challenge than moving from the locked-down walled garden of iOS to the open-source, admittedly more complicated world of Android.
The latter of the two ecosystems is not only more open and less well-regulated in terms of consistency between apps but also between brands. That means the ecosystem can be more difficult to adapt to and that switching manufacturers requires users to relearn a lot of things. Google has put a lot of effort toward rectifying things but between its need to fix Pixel-specific problems and keep a hold on Chrome OS and Android, that just hasn't happened yet.
Counterpoint notes that of the two devices in question, the Pixel 3 is still the more stable device in sales. Customers moved to pick up the OnePlus 6T from older flagships such as Samsung's Galaxy S7 or J-series rather than to shell out more than $800 for a more traditional new flagship. Approximately 70-percent of those users coming over from Apple were on older iPhones too -- coming from iPhone 7 or older.
Sales have since dropped dramatically in Q1 2019 for the handset.
Still a good sign for buyers of future devices
Despite the abrupt downturn for OnePlus in the US, no less than 2.4-percent of T-Mobile's sales were comprised of purchases of the OnePlus 6T. Google managed to snap up 7.3-percent of Verizon’s total sales in the measured period.
Taken with the above-mentioned information, Counterpoint analysts have concluded that points to a bright future for premium devices moving forward. Smartphones are, the researchers indicate, beginning to differentiate along fewer or less important axis. That means that customers are beginning to ignore brand power and assess the gadgets based on a cost-to-performance evaluation.
More directly, the successes and failures of the two devices in question should provide key cues for competing or emerging OEMs regarding where the focus needs to be in terms of innovation.