Changewave: Android Surging, iPhone Still Growing

Google's Android smartphone platform is surging, "roiling" the smartphone market with new demand, according to a new survey from Changewave Research. Motorola is so far the biggest beneficiary of this growing popularity, with the company seeing the first increase in planned purchases in a Changewave survey in three years. RIM's BlackBerry is still the market leader for current owners, while Apple's iPhone is #2 and still growing.

Changewave's research focuses on future planning, and respondents in its surveys are asked a variety questions about their purchasing plans. In the case of this survey, respondents were asked whether they own a smartphone (42% do, a record high in the survey), which smartphone they own, if they plan on buying a smartphone in the next 90 days, and if so, which model.

Research in Motion (RIM) is still the market leader in the Changewave Survey, with 39% of respondents who own smartphones sporting a BlackBerry. That percentage is down one point from the September survey, however, while Apple edged up one point to 31% for the #2 spot.

Palm also lost a point to 6%, while Android saw the biggest jump from a mere 1% to 4%. That kind of increase represents major growth for Android, but Changewave found that Android has made larger gains in the mindshare arena. 21% of respondent said that they planned on buying an Android device in the 90 days, a 15 point increase from the 6% that planned to do so in the September quarter.

That puts Android squarely in the #2 spot for planned purchases behind Apple, which saw 28% of respondents wanting iPhone OS to be in charge of the smartphone they planned to purchase. Apple has lead this part of the survey for several quarters, but December's 28% mark is down from the 32% mark in September.

"To put this in context," Changewave wrote, "three months ago Android OS was tied for last place in consumer preference among the major mobile operating systems. But since then it has surged into second place ahead of all competitors except the iPhone OS."

Changewave Graph

These numbers contrasts slightly when respondents are asked a separate question of which manufacturer made the device they planned to purchase. With this question, Apple is still #1, but with a higher percentage of 32%, down from 36% in September. RIM is the easy #2, with 21% (down from 27%), while Motorola is #3 with 13%, a significant jump up from 1% in September.

Changewave also noted that planned purchases for Apple's iPhone have only declined 4 points since the 3GS was launched in the six months since it was launched, a slight drop compared to the way new model launches affect other smartphone vendors. Even the iPhone 3G fell 26 points in planned purchases six months after it was announced.

"In short," Changewave wrote, "the current survey shows Apple is still excellently positioned to outperform in the consumer smart phone market going forward."

Changewave Graph

The other significant piece of this survey relates to customer satisfaction, where Apple dominates with 77% of respondents with an iPhone saying they are "Very Satisfied" with their device. Only Google's Android platform has a number in that neighborhood, with 72% of respondents saying they are "Very Satisfied." Blackberry is a distant #3 with 41%, while Palm is #4 at 33% and Windows Mobile trailing behind at 25%.

Palm's numbers are sharply divided between its new Web OS for the Pré (58%) and 29% for older Palm devices, for an overall satisfaction of 33%.

It is not likely a coincidence that the two platforms showing growth in Changewave's survey are the two companies with the highest customer satisfaction.

Changewave Graph