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Are Users Set to Abandon Android?

Stocks in this article: GOOG AAPL MSFT RIMM VZ

The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The multiple of "anecdote" is "statistics." Where am I going with this?

If you are interested in the smartphone wars, you will note two things about the Android platform and the U.S. market for smartphones in particular. Android took off in the U.S. starting in November 2009 with Verizon's (VZ) launch of the first Droid model. As of July 2011, a staggering 550,000 Androids were activated world-wide daily. In the U.S. market, the vast majority of Android activations have taken place on two-year contracts, the first of whom are coming due in the next five weeks.

Having over-taken Apple's (AAPL) iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Apple TV) in terms of unit volume, what will happen when these two-year Android contracts roll over? Will something happen even before they do, such as when the iPhone 5 is expected to become available here in October?

Here is when the multiple of anecdote, i.e., statistics, enter the picture. I have not conducted a scientific survey on this subject, let alone a statistically significant one. I have only asked approximately 100 people I know who have been Android users for anywhere between one week and two years. In addition, I have been paying attention to comments from numerous other people on message boards and hearing from friend-of-friends.

A few months ago, all of these anecdotes started to develop a clear pattern. Let's be blunt and get to the bottom line: A very large share of Android users are unhappy to some degree, and intend to switch platforms either when the iPhone 5 becomes available, or when their two-year contracts expire.

Battery Life

So what kind of complaints are we talking about precisely? One particular complaint appears to dominate almost completely: battery life. I can't recall a single Android user I've talked to who doesn't complain in a very angry tone about battery life. Basically, they love the smartphone's capabilities, but it is a useless brick when the battery goes out.

Many Android users not only know that they are experiencing unsatisfactory battery life, but also that some of the competing platforms such as iOS and BlackBerry typically offer much better battery life. They know it when they go out for the evening and the Android is dead after three hours or less, whereas the iPhone and BlackBerry devices carried by their friends are still going strong five or 10 hours thereafter.

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