With Apple poised to release its newest iPhone model, an unsurprising poll has found iPhone users are least likely to switch to devices made by another manufacturer.
A survey by market research firm UBS of 515 smartphone users around the world found that among iPhone users, 89 percent have no plan to switch, far higher than the retention rate for HTC, at 39 percent; Research In Motion's BlackBerry devices, at 33 percent (down from 62 percent in March 2010); Samsung, at 28 percent; and Nokia, at 24 percent (down from 42 percent in March 2010).
iPhone users made up the largest share of the sample, at 45 percent, far more than the competition, with the next largest share belonging to Canada-based RIM with 18 percent, followed by Finland-based Nokia with 16 percent.
The largest share of respondents were European, 40 percent, while 36 percent were in Asia and 23 percent in the Americas. About 1 percent of respondents resided in Africa.
Of those using Android -based phones, 55 percent said they would stick with the platform while 31 percent planned to get their hands on an iPhone. Taiwan-based HTC, maker of the Droid Incredible, Thunderbolt and other smartphones, was the most popular OEM among those using Android-based devices, with a 39 percent share, compared with 27 percent for Korea-based Samsung and 18 percent for U.S.-based Motorola.
"In general, retention rates appear to be falling for most of the OEMs," said UBS in its report. "Relatively, Apple's retention rates have held up incredibly well even as its market share has risen. Interestingly, when we look at all consumers who are considering changing handset OEM provider, Apple remains a significant net beneficiary. Alongside Apple, only Samsung and HTC also appear as net beneficiaries (more users won than users lost)."
The report noted that among the 10 percent of current Apple users not committed to sticking with iPhones, just 6 percent indicated they were certain to switch, while 4 percent suggested they were still in play, which means a potential retention rate for Apple as high as 93 percent, depending on whether the iPhone 5 wins them over.
Above Average Popularity
The iPhone consistently polls high in customer satisfaction. Earlier this month it won an 838-point rating in a survey by J.D. Power and Associates, far above the industry average of 788.
But with so many rivals emulating the touch-screen interface, app-driven smartphone experience, is Apple really so far ahead of the competition in quality, or just better at marketing?
"Apple is a marketing machine," said Alex Spektor or Strategy Analytics. "They did a tremendous job on the PC side, on the MP3 side and now on the phone and tablet side. They know how to sell and their users know how to sell their product for them.
"A lot of their momentum comes from the general feel-good buzz around the Apple products."