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Monday, November 29, 2010, 12:00 am PT (03:00 am ET)

Apple iPhone user loyalty twice that of Android

A new survey by German market research firm GfK Group indicates that most smartphone users feel little loyalty to their device outside of Apple's iPhone, which commands more than twice the fidelity of Android devices or smartphones in general.

According to a report by Reuters, only 25 percent of smartphone buyers as a whole planned to stick with the operating system of their current phone, compared to 59 percent of iPhone users.

Even among users of RIM's BlackBerry, once dubbed the "crackberry" in an allusion to its addictive experience as a messaging device, only 35 percent said they planned to stick with RIM in the future.

Android, which fuels a variety of heavily promoted iPhone-alternatives on America's Verizon and Sprint networks, only managed to retain a 28 percent loyalty figure from buyers, while the globally-leading Symbian OS used by Nokia slipped below the overall industry average, maintaining just 24 percent of its users base as loyal future buyers.

Microsoft brought up the rear in smartphone loyalty ratings, with only 21 percent saying they would buy another device running the same software in the future.

The survey was conducted across 2,653 users of mobile phones in China, Brazil, Britain Germany, Spain, and the United States. Sales of smartphones continue to rapidly outpace the growth of simpler mobile phones; 37 percent of those surveyed saying they planned to upgrade to a smartphone at their next purchase.

Users contemplating a smartphone purchase see little significant hardware differentiation, the report noted, saying "with features such as WiFi, GPS and high-resolution cameras now commonplace, owners of Internet-enabled phones are increasingly concerned with the ease of accessing attractive services to enhance their devices, often through app stores."

Ryan Garner, the lead analyst in the survey, added that "if a phone doesn't do what it says it will do or what the owner hopes it will do, the maker will lose loyalty."

Smartphone brand loyalty