Mobile Computing Wars: Apple, HTC Driving Smartphone Interest as BlackBerry Loses Ground

Interest in smartphones continues to accelerate, with Apple's iPhone and Android phones in a two-way race that is leaving one-time leader BlackBerry in the rearview mirror.

ChangeWave's latest smartphone survey of 4,028 U.S. consumers shows Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) to be the unquestioned winner of the growing smartphone market. (One notable caveat is that this survey was completed June 24 -- before the whole iPhone 4 antenna controversy blew up).

ChangeWave found more people than ever are planning to buy a smartphone, with 16.4 percent of those surveyed saying they plan to buy one in the next 90 days. Just three months ago it was 10.4 percent.

"The combined momentum of these latest Apple and HTC offerings has catapulted consumer interest in smartphones to unprecedented levels -- with consumer-planned buying now at an all-time high for a ChangeWave survey," the company wrote in a blog posting announcing the survey results.

Of those looking to buy in the next 90 days, 52 percent plan to get an iPhone. HTC's Android-powered phones came in a distant second at 19 percent, while Motorola Android phones were at 9 percent, BlackBerry was just 6 percent and the Palm Pre was a goose egg: no one planned to buy one.

One year ago, only 31 percent were looking at the iPhone, while 14 percent of those surveyed were planning on buying a BlackBerry and 3 percent were looking at the Pre. But that's not the only shift; a year ago, just 12 percent of those surveyed looking to buy a smartphone were interested in HTC's products while 16 percent were interested in Motorola. So HTC is grabbing quite a bit of Android market share at Motorola's expense.

Part of the answer can be found in ChangeWave's customer satisfaction survey, in which Apple was the leader by a huge margin. Customers gave the company a 73 percent satisfaction rating, well above the next closest vendor, HTC, at 39 percent. RIM has fallen from 55 percent in January 2008 to a meager 30 percent, but it wasn't the worst. That honor goes to Ericsson, at just 20 percent. Nokia wasn't much better; just 22 percent of customers gave the company their approval.

Nothing is permanent, of course. Just as RIM lost customer satisfaction, it can regain it. ChangeWave singled out Motorola for mention because its latest Droid model, the Droid X, "suggests it's determined to fight back to regain its Android leadership mantle." And this survey does not take into account the impact on Apple from all the antenna issues.

The market situation for RIM appears far more problematic, according to ChangeWave. RIM's customer satisfaction ratings have dropped for the past seven quarters to an all-time low and planned buying among consumers is at the lowest levels ever recorded for RIM in a ChangeWave survey.

"In short, in recent quarters RIM models appear to have lost their 'cool factor,' and the onus is now squarely on RIM to regain consumers' confidence in their products. To do so they need new, highly compelling offerings that can compete on an equal footing with the best that Apple and Android have to offer. Otherwise, RIM's future growth may increasingly be limited to the success or failure of its lower cost models on the international market," ChangeWave said in its report.


Andy Patrizio is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.



Android, iPhone, Apple, smartphone, ChangeWave