Now I have a Moto G, which is simply good enough for my needs. The improvements a flagship phone would grant over the Moto G are not worth 3-4x the price for me.
I hope one of the reasons is Apple having publicly stated that using their customers private data is not their business model.
When you see an iPhone next to a Galaxy or an HTC variant with carrier logos plastered all over it, the iPhone seems like the most "premium" option and the price difference is either minor or nonexistent. Besides, the iPhone, through a combination of legitimately good track record and expert marketing has an excellent reputation.
But if you're buying your handset outright, those other devices with less (or essentially no) marketing like the Moto X or the Nexus 5 start to stand out a little more if you're not married to one platform or the other. The difference between $200 and $250 isn't much to the person buying subsidized but the difference between a $350-400 handset and a $650-800 one is obvious. You can almost buy two Nexus 5's for the cost of an iPhone so the glass and metal "industrial design" may start to matter less. At least that's what happened for me.
When I stopped doing the contract-and-subsidy thing to switch over to a $30/mo prepaid plan, I considered an iPhone 5S (the current iPhone) and the Nexus 5. The iPhone was maybe a little bit more capable and had nicer construction but if I got the Nexus, I'd save enough to pay for 11 months of service.
Maybe I'm just a compulsive bargain shopper and spend a lot of time looking for the best bang to buck ratio. Maybe I'm just a cheapskate. Either way, my concern wasn't about targeted ads based on my search and navigation history. It was about not necessarily getting the absolute "nicest" thing out there, but rather something that did everything I needed it to do without spending a premium for that last 10% of quality/reputation/etc.
Nexus is the line I buy.. unfortunately the lack of sd slot is a bummer.
On the development side, my preferences are actually pretty flipped: I'm pretty comfortable with both at this point, but I'd much rather work with iOS/Cocoa touch than Android. I don't know if I'd go so far as to say the iOS dev process is "better", I guess I just feel that its a bit more thought out and predictable.
One of the reasons I don't even look at Sony's offerings
The solution is to release fewer phones, give timely updates and support them longer (Like Apple).
My wife went into the EE shop ( UK mobile company ) recently to see what was on the market as her old Galaxy S2 was dying.
She came out with a list of six Samsung phones alone and a couple of Sonys. Is a Galaxy Alpha better than an S6? What's a Galaxy Mini? So bewildered by the permutations that she just threw away the list and bought a second-hand Galaxy S4 on eBay. Potential sale for Samsung lost.
Android vendors might think they're satisfying all possible market requirements but actually they're confusing potential customers. As you say, probably easier just to go to the Apple store and choose between two.
Nobody seems to have picked up on the fact that Apple's success was also based on extreme simplicity: they sold just one model with a variable amount of memory. That's it. They didn't diversify their line until very recently, when they started to feel a bit insecure ("will people really like such a big screen? Fuck it, let's ship both") -- IMHO this simplification helped tremendously in selling to demographics that would have otherwise steered clear of "those nerdy gadgets".
Featurephone-like strategies make sense for upstarts looking for "a market, any market" and small players trying to carve niches; I would have thought Samsung was big enough to play smarter these days.
Not necessarily a bad thing in a grand scheme of things. Apple's hardware for example is famous for commanding rather high price on a second-hand market. This trend helps a lot in justifying high price point for a new unit, further strengthening margins.
Apple still gives support to 4 year old iPhone 4s. though it's lagging a bit. but after a year buying such premium device, you start to get updates late or no at all.
Also they are waterproof and generally good. I love mine and sometimes walk around like a living advert for them - hoping they can stay in business for many years.
Like the abysmal messing around of the carriers everywhere in Android phones' software, crushing any hope of a good, speedy upgrade system for any of them from the very beginning? A thing nobody would ever dare ask of Apple, because "We NEED to be able to offer iPhones!"?
Nope, sorry! At this point, the reason for the iPhone being big is first and foremost the iPhone being big. ~90% of the profits at ~15% market share? Please!
> In the second quarter of 2015, the combination of that same group shipped a total of 114.7 devices.
This is drastic indeed.
(Disclosure: I'm the author of the linked post at the top.)
I'd also question whether every device sold by Samsung and the other "premium" Android developers you mention, could be considered "premium".
Certainly there's a lot of Samsung devices that are aimed further downmarket than some of those from Xiaomi or Huawei (and vice versa). And even within a single manufacturer, you've not presented any evidence to suggest that people haven't shifted from non-premium Samsung to premium Samsung. (You could argue that would inevitably lead to higher profits, but I'm not sure that high profit is synonymous with "premium", so if that's the assumption then it's worth spelling out).
"I'd also question whether every device sold by Samsung and the other "premium" Android developers you mention, could be considered "premium"."
Of course, they aren't. But one can deduce what has happened to sales of the high-end models from those manufacturers by comparing previous handset totals, and ASP (average selling price). Samsung has said that the S6 + S6 Edge sold about as many as last year's S5, which itself was a disappointment in sales compared to 2013's S4. ASPs have fallen (by my calculations from $350 in Q2 2014 to $317 in Q2 2015 for Samsung; from $331 to $319 for Sony; from $237 to $235 for LG [not much of a fall]; HTC from $388 to $237. Motorola/Lenovo isn't exactly comparable because it spans a takeover period.
(One can calculate the numbers from publicly available figures, but I can't point you to a specific place for them - I just looked them up.)
If ASPs are falling, then generally you can infer that fewer top-end phones are being sold. You can easily think up scenarios where that's not the case, but all the indicators are down: fewer phones, lower ASPs, lower revenues.
"Certainly there's a lot of Samsung devices that are aimed further downmarket than some of those from Xiaomi or Huawei (and vice versa)."
But that's always been the case, even before Xiaomi or Huawei were contenders. However before them, there were few choices for premium features as you can get cheaper from Xiaomi and Huawei and OnePlus and so on.
"And even within a single manufacturer, you've not presented any evidence to suggest that people haven't shifted from non-premium Samsung to premium Samsung."
I think you mean that the other way round? (From premium to non-premium.) I haven't presented that evidence because it's impossible to extract from the available data. You'd need a giant consumer panel, like that run by Kantar ComTech, to see those shifts. But we can say with clarity that the companies that used to define "premium Android" are selling fewer phones at the premium end - which is told through lower ASPs, revenues, handset sales and profits.
"(You could argue that would inevitably lead to higher profits, but I'm not sure that high profit is synonymous with "premium", so if that's the assumption then it's worth spelling out)."
Yes, it is generally my assumption - one I think is accepted more generally than just in smartphones - that premium products attract higher gross margins. Other things being equal, that should feed through to higher operating profits.
What I find even more baffling is that it's becoming fairly common to offer custom removable backs (at the cost of complexity and thickness) and still not allow for a larger battery or replacement.
Take any 2 year old phone that's seen daily use and it's likely that one of the primary complaints about it's functionality is poor battery life. Normally that could be fixed with $15-$25 on ebay.... only if it's replaceable.
Sad, planned obsolescence strikes again.
Case in point, I was trying to download a local news app on my Nexus 7 running stock Android 5.1, but it wouldn't, because "this version of Android is not supported", so even the Nexus line is apparently not premium enough for some.
How's that for a premium experience?
Copying files to/from the device is supported (works well for photos; music and videos won't appear in the native apps): http://www.dedoimedo.com/computers/linux-iphone-6.html -> The proper solution
 http://www.libimobiledevice.org/ -> Status