Research: Samsung Has Sold 10M Galaxy S3’s, But ‘iPhone 5’ Still The Most-Wanted Phone

You know a brand is doing something right when people go a little crazy for its products even before they’ve been announced. A new survey out from 451 Research/ChangeWave on consumer smartphone sentiment found that Apple’s iPhone 5 — whatever that may turn out to be — is seeing an “unprecedented” wave of advance demand — higher than any other iPhone model has had before, with 14 percent of respondents saying they were “very likely” to buy the iPhone 5. In contrast, the S3 from Samsung, got a 2 percent “very likely” response from users planning to buy a smartphone in the next 90 days. The news comes one day after Samsung noted it has passed 10 million in Galaxy S3 devices in the two months since launch in other markets.

Apple is likely to launch a new smartphone later this year, the 451/ChangeWave researchers note, and that will put it in a perfect position to take advantage of what they believe will be a high-water mark for smartphone purchases. Samsung will also reap some benefits, it notes, although that will be proportionate to weaker demand for its brand. The rest of the competitive lineup may not fare so well.

“Overall smartphone sales should spike to an all-time high this fall, and of course Apple is going to be the number one beneficiary,” notes Dr. Paul Carton, 451 / ChangeWave’s VP of Research. “But besides Apple, and to a lesser degree Samsung, no other manufacturer is likely to benefit from this coming wave of demand.”

Among those other results, overall demand for Nokia is now at 2 percent, up one point from March. Demand for Motorola is now at 4 percent overall, down two percentage points since March. And HTC and RIM were unchanged, respectively at 3 percent and 2 percent — with the latter “all-time low” for RIM.

ChangeWave’s survey canvassed opinion from 4,042 mainly North American buyers in June 2012. In addition to finding that 14 percent of consumers said they were “very likely” to buy an iPhone 5, a further 17 percent said they were “somewhat likely to buy it in the future. As a point of comparison, when the same questions were asked about the iPhone 4s before it launched, 10 percent said they were very likely; and 11.5 percent said they were somewhat likely to buy it. And that’s for a device that is now “considered the most successful smart phone release in history,” Carton notes. The numbers for those “unlikely” to buy the device also went down:

What’s interesting is that ChangeWave doesn’t take into account that before the iPhone 4S launched, many thought it would be the fabled iPhone 5 — when in reality it physically looked exactly the same as the iPhone 4, and had much of the same functionality — with one notable exception being the addition of the Siri voice assistant. So what we may be seeing here is an increased, pent-up demand from people who have actually held off from buying the iPhone 4S in anticipation of a major update and upgrade.

But that’s not to say that Samsung is not doing very well, too. ChangeWave notes that in fact it has been seeing a four-fold surge in demand for Samsung since March — at a time when Android competitors like HTC and Motorola have been more challenged.

ChangeWave puts Samsung’s recent rise down to positive reactions to the S3, which features a bigger screen, more processing power, a better camera and 4G capabilities.

That popularity was spelled out yesterday by Shin Jong-kyun, president of Samsung’s information technology and mobile communication division, who yesterday told reporters that the S3 had passed the 10-million sales mark since launching at the beginning of June. The Yonhap news agency, which quoted Shin, worked this out to sales of 190,000 daily, with sales potentially reaching 40 million by the end of the year.

Still, even with that momentum, it’s not registering at the same level of hype as Apple’s iPhone 5, as evidenced by these two comparative charts that measure “advance” demand for both devices.

A key difference here, which should be noted, is that while Apple has yet to any anything official on its next iPhone, the Samsung Galaxy S3 was launched months ago, and so people who are being canvassed would have already known more about what the device had (or didn’t have) when responding — even if the phone had yet to hit the market. In the case of the iPhone 5, ChangeWave says that it presented respondents with a description of “probable” features for the device.

Those included a larger screen, better camera, new OS and 4G capability.

Both the Galaxy S3 and the iPhone 5 will likely be sold at the same price points — currently the S3 goes for $199 for the 16GB model on a two-year contract.