Endless words have been written about Android's ascent as the dominant smartphone operating system, but a recent poll shows that iOS remains the favorite among a key demographic group: teens.
Android has risen to the top thanks to a diverse ecosystem of handset manufacturers, but as an aspirational brand, Apple remains dominant in the minds of young people. That shouldn't be discounted, especially by app developers and others looking to capitalize on this market.
Twice a year for more than two decades, Piper Jaffray polls thousands of high schoolers to get a clear indication of where trends in this important demographic are headed. The results of their newest "Taking Stock With Teens" survey is in, and the results cast Apple in a favorable light.
Seventeen percent of those polled said they had an iPhone (more than last time), and 37 percent said they planned to buy an iPhone in the next six months (compared to 31 percent a year ago).
A staggering 95 percent of those polled cited Apple's iTunes software as their online music provider, and of those who had an MP3 player, 86 percent had an iPod. (More than half said they use their cell phone as a music player instead.)
iPads and other tablets are on the rise, too - 22 percent of the kids polled said there's a tablet in their house now, with 20 percent planning to get one within the next six months. Piper Jaffray didn't ask specifically about the iPad, but with Apple's utter dominance in the tablet market right now, it's easy to infer that this is good for Apple too.
Teens are also more receptive than ever to buying games online and downloading them - fewer said they're buying packaged games and intend to buy packaged games, while they're spending more on downloads. Again, that's a good sign for Apple and also for the Android Market - though there is a disturbing trend. Sixty-six percent of those polled cited peer to peer networks as their preferred method of getting music.
We know that pirated software has become quite a problem for Android developers - ones I spoke with at the Game Developers Conference in March anecdotally spoke of piracy rates as high as 90 percent. It's a problem on the iPhone too, but by all the accounts I've heard or read about, it's much lower. Regardless, it's plain to see that while teens are happy to pay for an iOS device (or perhaps to have their parents buy one for them), they're less likely to actually pay for content for that device.
Concerns aside, Piper Jaffray's poll is a strong indicator that even as Android marketshare eclipses Apple, Apple is still the brand to beat, especially for an influential segment of the economy that spends a disproportionate amount of its income on discretionary items.