According to a recent survey from ChangeWave, the Apple iPhone era could be tricking to a close, with several recent releases from BlackBerry helping it recapture some of the market share it has lost to the now-iconic iPhone.
ChangeWave surveyed 3,803 cell phone owners to capture a snapshot of market trends. The survey gauged how the BlackBerry Storm, RIM's first ever touch screen device, stacked up against the iPhone just weeks after the Storm was unleashed on the market. The Storm and the iPhone were two of the most sought after and coolest smart phones of 2008.
According to the survey, 12.2 percent of respondents said they plan to buy a smart phone over the next 90 days, a 0.3 percent increase over ChangeWave's previous study.
The survey found that RIM still leads the consumer market with 41 percent, a one point slip since the September survey and its lowest percentage in the past year. Apple, however, rose six points, capturing 23 percent of the market. Apple has doubled its smart phone market share in the past six months, an explosion that can be directly attributed to the launch of the 3G iPhone this summer.
Combined, the two smart phone powerhouses -- BlackBerry and iPhone -- hold two-thirds of the market, with other players like Palm capturing just single digit percentages.
The next 90 days, however, shows RIM capturing back more market share, ChangeWave predicted. The survey said over the next three months RIM's market share will shoot up nine points to 39 percent, based mainly on its recent launches of hot smart phones like the BlackBerry Storm, the BlackBerry Bold 9000 and the BlackBerry Pearl Flip 8220. Those launches, ChangeWave said, make RIM "capable of giving Apple a real run for its money in the first quarter of 2009."
Apple's outlook isn't as rosy, with enthusiasm surrounding the 3G iPhone's launch waning, iPhone purchases will decrease, dropping Apple's market share four points to 30 percent of the next 90 days.
"So approaching the first quarter, the ball has shifted back to BlackBerry's court in the form of a big uptick in consumer interest which they can potentially capitalize on," Paul Carlton, ChangeWave vice president of research, wrote on the company's HotWire Blog. "But is the new RIM lineup of consumer products strong enough to take full advantage of their increased demand?"
Along with taking a snapshot of the smart phone market, ChangeWave gauged the reaction of 61 owners of the new BlackBerry Storm and compared those results to a similar survey in July 2007 of owners of the first generation iPhone.
The survey found users' reception to the Storm was "lukewarm," and one in three Storm owners were "very satisfied" with the device, well below the 52 percent of all BlackBerry users who consider themselves "very satisfied."
"While far from bad, it's mediocre," Carlton wrote, "which means it's a potential concern regarding RIM's head-to-head battle with Apple."
And when compared to the original iPhone, 77 percent of iPhone users were "very satisfied," while only 5 percent were "unsatisfied." When it comes to the Storm, 14 percent of respondents said they weren't satisfied with the smart phone.
The results did find that consumers were excited about RIM entering the battle of the touch-screen titans and releasing its first touch sensitive smart phone. Forty-nine percent said the touch-screen interface is what they like best about the Storm; 46 percent said they liked the size; while 43 percent said they liked the screen resolution.
However, the Storm's strongest points could also be its Achilles heel. Twenty percent of Storm users said they disliked the touch-screen interface, 21 percent were disappointed with its lack of a QWERTY keyboard; 21 percent were put off by its short battery life; and 20 percent said it was difficult to use.
Overall, however, ChangeWave predicted that 2009 will be the year that Apple and RIM duke it out for market dominance, with RIM showing strong potential to curb Apple's explosive and rapid growth.
"Going forward, RIM is showing a surge in momentum due to its slew of new product launches -- and appears capable of giving Apple a strong challenge in 2009," Carlton wrote. "But the real test in a cutthroat market is how satisfied consumers actually are with their new models."
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