Smartphone demand higher than ever

Sales arrow
16 Jul, 2010

A new ChangeWave survey says we are currently experiencing the “most extensive growth” in smartphone uptake ever seen, but it's not all good news for the likes of RIM and Motorola.

Market research firm ChangeWave is predicting the biggest boom yet in smartphone sales until September, driven by demand for the Apple iPhone 4 and [a href="" target="blank"]HTC['s/a] Android-powered range.

A survey of more than 4,000 people revealed that an unprecedented 16.4 per cent were planning on buying a new smartphone in the next 90 days, compared with 10.8 per cent when the survey was last conducted in March.

The research, conducted in the US between June 14 and 24, showed that 52 per cent of those looking at a new smartphone had their eyes on the iPhone 4.

However, with the survey taking place in the 10 days leading up to the iPhone's launch, that figure was always likely to be high – and current demand has no doubt also been affected by the so-called Death Grip reception issue dominating the headlines.

“It's like Hollywood when Avatar came out,” ChangeWave research director Paul Carton told Forbes. “The iPhone was sucking all the oxygen out of the room.”

Nonetheless, it still marks a spike of 21 per cent over March's levels of iPhone demand, and puts the iPhone far ahead of any other smartphone in the desirability stakes.

HTC also fared well in the survey, with 19 per cent of respondents identifying the Taiwanese manufacturer's handsets as their desired choice – an increase of more than 50 per cent on March's 12 per cent.

However, Motorola and RIM went the other way, with the lack of new hardware to attract potential customers dropping them from 16 to 9 per cent, and 14 to 6 per cent respectively.

Motorola will have high hopes for its Droid X, while RIM will be hoping uptake of its latest BlackBerry OS 6.0 can add some much-needed vitality to its handset offerings.

Demand for smartphones made by Palm, which was recently bought by HP in a $1.2 billion deal deal, dropped from three per cent to less than one per cent.

Existing customer satisfaction appears to be one of the key drivers of iPhone demand, with three out of four owners of the Apple handset declaring themselves “very satisfied” with the device – again, the survey took place before any unsatisfied iPhone 4 owners could have their say.

HTC owners were second most satisfied on 39 per cent, further correlating with the desirability figures, while 34 per cent of Motorola owners said they were very satisfied, followed by Palm (34 per cent), LG (31 per cent) and RIM at 30 per cent.

Worryingly for RIM, the survey marks the seventh straight drop in customer satisfaction with its devices from a September 2008 high of 55 per cent.