updated 11:20 pm EST, Mon December 22, 2008
Apple vs RIM market share
Apple has closed the gap with RIM in the smartphone market and leads in initial consumer satisfaction, according to a recent ChangeWave survey. The iPhone has steadily increased its market share, growing from just 11 percent in June to 23 percent in the December survey. Momentum continued well after the 3G launch, with a gain of six points from September to December. BlackBerry devices have held a fairly level dominance, with a slight drop of one point to 41 percent in the same period.
Despite the success of the iPhone, the BlackBerry Storm could prove to be a significant competitor. Consumers were asked which smartphone they planned on purchasing in the next 90 days and 39 percent expected it to be a BlackBerry, a gain of 9 points from three months ago. At five months past the 3G product refresh, the iPhone was still chosen by 30 percent of the surveyed individuals.
The fierce battle between the two dominant competitors has taken a serious toll on smaller companies. Palm has steadily fallen from its leading market share of 36 percent in June of 2006 and now only holds nine percent of the device ownership numbers. While Apple doubled its share in the last six months, Palm's numbers were cut from 14 percent to nine percent and only one out of 100 prospective smartphone buyers planned on buying one its devices.
Although the Storm shows strength in potential near-term purchases, customer satisfaction could have a serious affect on long-term distribution. The survey compared customers' initial reactions to the handsets and found that 77 percent of the first-generation iPhone owners were "very satisfied" with the products, while only 33 percent can say the same about the Storm. In contrast, the collective group of BlackBerry smartphones rated 52 percent in the top category.
As the mobile device segment evolves, it still remains unclear what the future holds for each of the companies. RIM has pushed several new and updated products recently including the Storm, Bold and Pearl Flip. Despite the Storm's reception in the first few weeks after launch, the company will be able to refine the device or create new products based on the feedback. Some analysts see the sales falling off after the holidays, however.
Even Palm seems ready to take another shot at reestablishing itself in the market. The company has organized a special event at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show in January. Reports suggest that the overhauled Nova operating system and a new smartphone will both be launched at the Las Vegas conference.