ChangeWave has released its quarterly consumer smartphone report, which tracks North American demand for devices and satisfaction with handsets. The survey covers planned purchases during the next 90 days, and indicates that Samsung sales could see strong early gains in 2013, while interest in Apple's iPhone takes a hit. Samsung's Galaxy Note II in particular made a promising showing, meaning consumers are eager to wrap their hands around gigantic devices.
The December survey found that while one in two North Americans still plan on buying an iPhone in early 2013, that's down from 71 percent during the previous quarter. ChangeWave notes that this is still historically a good amount of interest for Apple, and it's to be expected that demand would simply taper off to normal levels after a buying frenzy following the release of the new iPhone 5. Typically, Apple demand spikes immediately following an iPhone release and then returns to a lower mark, but it's worth noting that it remained higher following the iPhone 4S launch than it has for the iPhone 5. Apple still far exceeds Samsung overall in terms of stated consumer demand, but Samsung made big gains in this survey.
Here's what happened for the Korean company: an 8 percentage point game, bringing anticipated demand from 13 to 21 percent overall. ChangeWave says that much of a climb is “unprecedented” in their survey history. The Galaxy S III was the most desirable of Samsung handsets, with 69 percent of overall demand, but the Galaxy Note 2 was a surprise dark horse emerging in the race, with 23 percent of all Samsung consumer interest. Overall, consumers reported considerable interest in “phablet” devices, with 27 percent reporting they wanted a screen that's at least 5-inches. The 4 to 4.9-inch category still rules with 52 percent of interest, but clearly, consumers are warming to the idea of big-screen mobile devices.
The phablet is the “new normal,” in many ways as Natasha Lomas put it in a Sunday opinion piece, and consumer research seems to agree. I still find the things incredibly unwieldy, even with my massive hands, but there are clear benefits to larger displays, and more and more, users seem willing to put up with the trade-offs those screen sizes entail.
As for mobile OS satisfaction, ChangeWave reports a surprise win for Microsoft – Windows Phone 8 now ranks higher among the over 4,000 survey respondents than Android, with 54 percent of users describing themselves as “Very Satisfied,” vs. 48 percent on Google's mobile OS. The iPhone still reigns supreme in this arena, however, with a 71 percent high satisfaction rate for iOS. Broken down by OEM, Apple rules with 70 percent, with Samsung and Nokia tied for second with 56 percent approval ratings apiece.