Apple, RIM to benefit from shift away from basic cell phones - study

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Record numbers of consumers are abandoning their basic cell phones for more advanced models — with Research-in-Motion and Apple the primary beneficiaries, according to ChangeWave’s latest consumer cell phone survey.

The January survey of 4,182 consumers focused on key market share changes among cellular manufacturers and service providers — and the results show a continuing seismic shift in the cell phone market.

Among respondents who said they plan to buy a new cell phone in the next six months, the Apple iPhone remains the top choice, with 17 percent of the votes — up one point from ChangeWave's previous survey. The RIM BlackBerry came in a close second, however, rising 3 points to 15 percent and showing the most momentum going forward.

On the downside, one-time market dominator Motorola declined another 4-pts in terms of future planned purchases, garnering just 11 percent of the votes and continuing "a horrendous slide that began immediately after Apple chief executive Steve Jobs’ announcement of the iPhone."

The survey also found that Apple is maintaining a commanding lead in customer satisfaction with 72 percent of customers saying they are "Very Satisfied" compared to the other major manufacturers. RIM came in second with 55 percent of its customers saying they are "Very Satisfied" with their Blackberry handsets.

Meanwhile, Palm (30 percent) ranked at the very bottom in terms of customer satisfaction, while Motorola (34 percent), Sony/Ericsson (34 percent) and Samsung (34 percent) are all tied in next-to-last place.

"The accelerating shift to advanced smart phones comes at a time when overall consumer cell phone buying appears to be weakening," an unidentified ChangeWave analyst wrote in the report. "Just 23 percent of respondents say they'll buy a cell phone over the next six months — 3 points less than at any other point of the past year."


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