updated 11:45 am EDT, Thu September 23, 2010
JD Power gives slight edge to iPhone over Android
JD Power today published a second study of cellphone satisfaction in the US that showed Android having closed the gap in perceived quality with the iPhone. Apple still earned top marks from owners with an exact 800 score, but Motorola's Droid line has all but wiped out the earlier chasm, scoring 791. Its fellow Android competitor HTC has also pushed past the industry average for the first time to reach 781.
Every other phone maker fell below the 764 average. RIM's aging BlackBerry line dropped slightly to hit 737, and Nokia reached a new low of 711. Palm (now HP) and Samsung made gains, although the full effect of the Android-based Galaxy S wasn't measured in the period of the study.
The ratings may prove troublesome for Apple. It has regularly used JD Power's charts to tout the iPhone's quality but now can't claim an unambiguous lead like it could in the past, when it had more than 50 points over its best alternative. The iPhone 4's influence over the rankings isn't known, but HTC and Motorola together have released some of their most popular US phones ever in the past half-year, including the Droid Incredible, Evo 4G, Droid 2 and Droid X.
As in the recent past, basic cellphones score much lower in satisfaction. LG topped the list with just a 731-point score while the average was 713; Kyocera and Nokia were virtually tied for last place at 676 and 677.
Regardless of label, traditional phone designers had reason to worry, as the time between upgrades widened: an average owner of a no-frills device kept it for three months longer at 20.5 months. Smartphones played a role as there was less motivation to upgrade to another simple device, but much of the blame was placed on carriers. Rate hikes from AT&T, Verizon and others pushed the average phone bill to $78; some of this came from smartphone customers, but messaging charges and hidden new fees have raised the price and led some to decide against upgrading their phones since it was too expensive.