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Friday, August 14, 2009, 08:50 am PT (11:50 am ET)

Apple's iPhone 3GS has 99 percent satisfaction rate

Customers who flocked to Apple's latest iPhone upgrade were overwhelmingly satisfied with their purchase, but AT&T's network didn't fare nearly as well, a new survey shows.

A total of 99 percent of 200 respondents to a RBC/IQ ChangeWave survey in August said they are satisfied with their iPhone 3GS, with 82 percent of those "Very Satisfied." That's an improvement from the already-stellar statistics on the last two iterations of the iPhone, of which 73 percent of customers gave a superior ranking. Similarly, 94 percent of iPhone 3GS buyers said the product met or exceeded their expectations.

But the iPhone's U.S. carrier, AT&T, was seen as the product's biggest pitfall. When iPhone 3GS owners were asked to rank what they dislike about the product, 55 percent chose the AT&T network. That was followed by the 41 percent who felt the device's battery life is too short, and 8 percent who said their company's IT department doesn't support the product.

The data was released Friday as part of a new report from RBC Capital Markets. Citing customer satisfaction, analyst Mike Abramsky reiterates the company's "outperform" rating for AAPL stock, and maintains a price target of $190.

As for the phone's most-liked features, the touchscreen interface took top honors with 45 percent, followed by ease of use and faster Web browsing. It's likely most who bought the iPhone 3GS knew exactly what they were getting: 41 percent of respondents were migrating from an older version of the product. Switchers from other devices mostly came from Motorola (18 percent), followed in order by Nokia (11 percent), RIM (9 percent), Sanyo (8 percent), and Palm (6 percent).

"iPhone 3GS owners are a highly satisfied group, strongly loyal to Apple, and that Apple innovation (touchscreen, software UI, applications) is what continues to lure new buyers to its smartphones," the report reads. "The benefits to Apple for achieving this premium customer satisfaction include: strong pricing power, high customer lifetime value, powerful, inexpensive viral marketing (recommend to others), increased carrier channel leverage, indirect benefits to Apple's other businesses (e.g. Macs)."

RBC survey 1


The study demonstrates that Apple customers are just as satisfied, if not moreso, with the iPhone as they are with the company's other offerings, such as the Mac. When compared with other companies in surveys, the Cupertino, Calif. company consistently outperforms its competitors in customer satisfaction and service.

RBC survey 2


RBC survey 3