updated 02:20 pm EDT, Tue August 5, 2008
iPhone Closing in on Palm
Apple's iPhone user base is likely to have surpassed Palm in earnest with the iPhone 3G launch but will face a serious threat by BlackBerry creator Research in Motion shortly afterwards, says a new ChangeWave study. A poll of over 3,500 home users in June showed Apple climbing to 11 percent of active users, up significantly from nine percent in March. The statistic is just three percent below Palm's 14 percent share of current users and on its current trend would have Apple edge out Palm by the researchers' next report.
The iPhone 3G introduction made predicting future purchases difficult for the study. The survey's timing between the announcement of the new iPhone and its July 11th ship date immediately put it at the top of future device purchases for the 90-day period ahead. However, Apple's heavily publicized one million iPhone 3G sales on its launch weekend alone are expected to significantly alter the results.
This may be challenged by the release of future BlackBerry phones, ChangeWave cautions. Of those looking to buy a smartphone in the near future, about four percent were "very likely" to buy the BlackBerry Bold keyboard-equipped smartphone, while two percent each were equally likely to buy the touchscreen Thunder or entry-level Kickstart flip phone. The percentages are likely to change with official launches but could create a "powerful counteroffensive" for RIM as it claws back interest in its own devices, the analysts predict.
Neither Apple nor RIM is expected to suffer significantly from each other's moves. The two are instead though to be stealing user share from smaller players in the smartphone industry such as Motorola, Palm and Samsung, whose devices now have less influence in the market than either BlackBerries or iPhones.
"The real losers in this smart phone battle will most likely be the second-tier players, who could find themselves increasingly pushed to the sidelines as the two Goliaths battle for market dominance," says ChangeWave originator Tobin Smith.
The study also foresees few existing owners of either an Apple or RIM device converting away from their choices, with BlackBerry owners two to three times more likely to buy a replacement while Apple users are the least likely of any smartphone owner to buy a BlackBerry device.