The duopoly of Google's Android operating system and Apple's iPhone is getting stronger, a consumer survey by ChangeWave Research suggests. Its latest data present good news both for Cupertino, Calif.-based hardware giant Apple and South Korea-based Samsung, the leading maker of Android phones.
The survey also has a late holiday gift for Microsoft: Users of its struggling Windows Phone platform are happier with their choice than Android users. Fifty-three percent of Windows Phoners said they were "very satisfied," compared with 48 percent who gave that answer for Android devices.
iPhone Holds Its Own
Users of Nokia devices, evidently boosted by Windows power, gave them a 56 percent "very satisfied" rating. All, however, trailed Apple's 71 percent strong approval rating.
The December survey of 4,061 consumers found that people planning to buy an iPhone -- the version was not specified in the question -- fell to 50 percent in December, from 71 percent in September, when the iPhone 5 was released. ChangeWave considers that "a solid showing for Apple."
But Samsung, whose Galaxy line of smartphones are giving Apple a serious run for its money, saw demand shoot up during the same period, from 13 percent in September to 21 percent in December.
"Consumer buying intent for Samsung smartphones has been extraordinary to start the year," said Paul Carton of 451 Research's ChangeWave service in the report.
Samsung's top-of-the-line Galaxy S III -- which began receiving Android's Jelly Bean (4.1) update Thursday -- is by far the leading object of desire for planned Samsung buyers, with 69 percent, followed by the Galaxy Note II "phablet," with 23 percent.
"Considering the Galaxy S III has been out for several months we'd normally expect a slowdown by now -- but it's still red hot," Carton said.
The Note's popularity isn't surprising given the trend toward larger screens. The Note has a 5.5 inch HD display, and the iPhone had to up its screen to 4 inches to keep up with competition this go-round. The largest share of ChangeWave respondents, 52 percent, favor a screen size between between 4 and 4.9 inches, followed by 27 percent who want a 5-inch screen or larger.
Supply Problems Solved
That half of all smartphone buyers still pine for the iPhone is welcome news for Apple as it prepares to release its latest earnings next week, amid reports that it has lowered component orders for the iPhone. That led to speculation that the iPhone 5 won't fare as well as its predecessors.
Ramon Llamas, a senior research analyst at IDC Research specializing in mobile devices, said the waiting time to receive an iPhone has been reduced at most carriers. But that doesn't mean demand is waning, but rather that carriers are managing the supply better.
"Verizon is the only one still trying to manage the entire stockout issue," he said. The analyst also sees an expectation of 65 million iPhones for the just-ended quarter as unrealistic, and sees 50-55 million as a more realistic result. He noted that Apple set up shop in 25 new countries during the quarter.
"On a worldwide basis the numbers are still strong," he said.