updated 10:10 am EDT, Thu March 17, 2011
iPhone at tops of JD Power ranks again
Apple continued a winning streak on Thursday after a new JD Power study of cellphone owners gave it the lead. For the fifth consecutive time, the iPhone had the highest satisfaction of any phone with a 795-point score. While down slightly from the summer, Android manufactuers' scores were down significantly more; Motorola and HTC fell from 791 and 781 points each to 763 and 762, barely above the 761-point average.
Those below average were more consistent but included the same audience as before. Palm (now HP) moved up slightly, but the Android-based Galaxy S did nothing to salvage Samsung's reputation at 734. Nokia improved to 734, but the BlackBerry sank further and was the lowest of the top seven, reaching 732.
Basic feature phones remained consistently lower and were led by Sanyo, LG, and Samsung at 715, 711 and 703 points respectively.
JD Power didn't try to explain the widened gap, but the study ranged between July and December of last year and may have reflected the trends of new buyers. Apple had only just launched the iPhone 4. Android was supposed to have received a large boost with the launches of the Droid 2, Droid X, and the Samsung Galaxy S, but their launches only appear to have worsened Android's reputation. All of them use customized Android interfaces where the first half of 2010 had been dominated more by the original, largely uncustomized Motorola Droid; both were given three stars by owners for ease of use, while HTC was lowered to the same level for its OS despite using Android like the four-star Motorola.
Ease of use and the OS were the most important deciding factors on smartphones at 26 percent and 24 percent, the researchers learned from users. The physical shape was also important at 23 percent, but the features Android phone makers have usually relied on as sales points were fourth at 19 percent. Battery was only important for eight percent.
Social networking access helped boost the happiness of a smartphone owner to an average of 783 points, primarily for services like Facebook and Twitter. The official iOS versions of either network have usually been the most developed of either platform and might have contributed to the results.