Forecast: Android has peaked, Apple's iPhone still growing

April 27, 2013: 6:19 AM ET

The Yankee Group has seen the future of the smartphone and it belongs to Apple's iOS

Source: Yankee Group

Source: Yankee Group. Click to enlarge.

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."

So writes the Yankee Group's Carl Howe, in defiance of conventional wisdom, summarizing the findings of a survey of 16,000 U.S. smartphone customers.

Howe's bottom line: Google's (GOOG) 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.

Link: Consumers Will Drive iPhone Ownership Past Android's Peak.

Thanks to AllThingsD's John Paczkowski, who was the first to get his hands on the full report.

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