By Paul Carton
ChangeWave's recent Smart Phone Wars report showed a rapidly evolving two-horse race between the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone and Research in Motion (RIMM) BlackBerry – with second tier players like Palm (PALM) and a host of others being shoved to the sidelines.
To follow-up, we took a close-up look at the features users love and hate about their iPhones and BlackBerrys as part of our March 2008 survey of 864 smart phone owners.
If you recall, our previous report showed consumer satisfaction levels were sky high for the two smart phone frontrunners – with Apple boasting a 79% Very Satisfied rating for its iPhone models and RIM garnering a highly respectable 54% rating for the BlackBerry.
But what is it about these two brands that have consumers so very satisfied?
First, we asked RIM BlackBerry owners. By an overwhelming margin they told us the feature they liked most is the BlackBerry’s exceptional access to email (56%).
No other feature comes even close in terms of popularity. As respondent MBR29407 explains, "The email integration of the BlackBerry8800 is probably its single best feature, but I am constantly amazed at the quality of the phone itself.” NEW06507 adds "I like the seamless way my BlackBerry works with corporate email, and the way you can call a number from within an email by highlighting it.“
BlackBerry owners also reported a few key dislikes, number one being the speed and quality of its Internet browsing experience (13%). A second major dislike was the size of the keypad (11%), with owners complaining that the keys are too small and cause too many typing errors. “The overlaid keyboard (two letters per key) and TrueType feature make my BlackBerry slow to type messages without errors,” reported respondent PET91787.
The Apple iPhone
By far the most lauded feature of the iPhone among owners is its seamless integration of a Phone, iPod and Internet browser (36%). As respondent DSL06271 puts it, “The feature I use most is the iPod, but it's the integrated whole that makes it so much fun to use. “
Respondent BOB04545 adds, “I love the iPhone. It is revolutionary. I love being able to jump on the Internet, send email, get maps, weather forecasts, instant message, and make phone calls.”
The second most popular feature is the iPhone’s touch screen interface, followed by its ease of use.
In terms of dislikes, there is no doubt about what iPhone owners hate most. It’s the speed of the AT&T EDGE network. No surprise then that the number two criticism is the requirement to Use AT&T.
Users also expressed unhappiness with the iPhone’s lack of copy & paste functionality.
Mirror Mirror On the Wall
So now that we’ve briefly reviewed the evidence, which smart phone is the fairest of them all?
The answer is clear – both Apple and RIM dominate the U.S. smart phone industry and are in the process of overwhelming the competition.
Each has a super-loyal cadre of users that fervently support their phone brand – and each has extraordinary room to grow.
Today there are over a billion cell phones in the world, and our ChangeWave surveys have picked up a seismic shift occurring among U.S. consumers towards the high end smart phone market. In simplest terms, that’s where the momentum lies.
And as consumers gravitate towards quality multidimensional cell phones – i.e., smart phones – our research shows both Apple and Research In Motion are the big winners. In other words, just as the Apple iPhone has captured the hearts and minds of its user base, so has the RIM BlackBerry.
RIM BlackBerry: While the Apple iPhone boasts some of the highest satisfaction rates we've ever seen in a ChangeWave survey, the bottom line for RIM owners continues to be, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Respondent PAN18809 demonstrates RIM’s extraordinary hold over business users when he writes, “My BlackBerry enables one simple truth – work is something I do, not someplace I go.“
RIM’s enormous strength in our ChangeWave business user surveys (73% market penetration) strongly suggests they’ll maintain momentum in their core market going forward.
Apple iPhone: For all its momentum, there are still some core issues iPhone owners want to have resolved – and first among them is 3G capability. According to the survey, that's the number one feature iPhone owners want integrated into the next generation of the iPhone (19%) – even more so than third-party software (18%), GPS functionality (15%) or E-mail integration (10%).
The same holds true among respondents who say they are interested in but haven’t yet purchased an iPhone. One-in-four say they are holding out to wait for the next generation iPhone (14%) or for 3G network compatibility (11%).
That's great news for Apple – assuming that the next generation of the iPhone is 3G compatible. Stay tuned. We'll know in June.
But the bottom line in this horse race is Apple and Research In Motion are both giant winners. The rest of the smart phone manufacturers lose.
Jim Woods co-wrote this article.
This article summarizes the results of a recent ChangeWave Alliance survey. The Alliance is a research network of 15,000 business, technology and medical professionals who spend their everyday lives working on the front line of technological change. For more info on ChangeWave, or to sign up for real-time alerts email on the hottest technologies and companies, click here.