Android, iPhone Battling for Lusting BlackBerry OS Users
BlackBerry owners are increasingly becoming a lustful bunch, with a significant amount coveting both the iPhone and Android-powered smartphones, according to a study out today. Nearly 40 percent of BlackBerry users say their next smartphone purchase would be an iPhone, while a third would also switch to the Android mobile operating system, according to the second smartphone brand loyalty survey conducted semi-annually by the online audience measurement research firm Crowd Science. The survey also found Android users rivaling iPhone users in loyalty, with about 90 percent of each user group planning to stick with their current brand when buying their next phone. Asked specifically if they'd swap their present phone for Google's new Android-based Nexus One, 32 percent of BlackBerry users said "yes," compared with just 9 percent of iPhone users. This figure jumped to 60 percent for users of smartphones not made by Research In Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) or Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL). This could be particularly worrisome for RIM, given reports published today citing the Chinese-language Economic Daily News saying that HTC (High Tech Computer) is shipping a CDMA-version of the Nexus One Google phone to Verizon Wireless, which will begin to market the smartphones this month or in April.
"These results show that the restlessness of BlackBerry users with their current brand hasn't just been driven by the allure of iPhone," John Martin, CEO of Crowd Science, said in a statement. "Rather, BlackBerry as a brand just isn't garnering the loyalty seen with other mobile operating systems."
BlackBerry OS, iPhone Being ChallengedNews of the BlackBerry brand losing some luster among its user-base comes at a time of unprecedented competition in the smartphone sector -- Apple and RIM are no longer the only favored contenders. The maturation of the Android OS and the subsequent release in the past six months of several impressive Android-powered handsets is shaking up the pecking order. And, though struggling, Palm's building an ecosystem around webOS with the Palm Pre Plus and Pixi Plus while rumors circulate about a new addition, the Elan. Yet, despite the Crowd Science survey, RIM continues to retain its spot ahead of Apple in worldwide sales volume, though Apple made big gains, according to Gartner research. For 2009, RIM Blackberrys gained 3.3 points to end the year with a 19.9 percent share. Apples iPhone nearly doubled its worldwide market share of smartphone sales to 14.4 percent, up 6.2 points from the year before, according to Gartner. Both still trailed Nokia's Symbian handsets on a global basis, which saw market share dip 5.5 points to 46. 9 percent.
RIM's BlackBerry also continues to retain its No. 1 rank in the U.S. For the quarter ending in January, RIM's BlackBerry garnered 43 percent market share, a 1.7 percent increase from three months earlier, according to research firm comScore. Apple's iPhone held on to second place with 25.1 percent market share, an increase of 0.3 percent from the previous period. Additionally, the overall smartphone sector continues to thrive, as worldwide fourth-quarter mobile handset sales, which typically always outpace the performance seen in the rest of a year, prove that the trend isn't cooling off anytime soon. "4Q 2009 saw 25 percent more smartphones shipped than 3Q," Michael Morgan, analyst with ABI Research, said in a statement. "Granted, the fourth quarter is usually better than the third, but 3Q saw only a 3.6 percent growth over the second quarter. The robust strength of this markets recovery is very encouraging indeed."