Commentary

One Third Of Non-AT&T Users Would Have Bought IPhone

Buyers-remorse

With the expected arrival of the Verizon iPhone in 2011 drawing ever closer, speculation about how well the long-awaited device will impact AT&T and other phone rivals is sure to grow. A Credit Suisse report earlier this year projected 23% of AT&T iPhone subscribers, or about 1.4 million people, would drop the carrier if Verizon also gets the Apple smartphone.

A new survey from market research firm ChangeWave asked non-AT&T respondents whether they'd have still purchased their new smart phone if the iPhone had been available from their wireless provider at the time. A whopping one in three said they would have gotten the iPhone instead, suggesting Verizon can expect a sales boom by adding the device to its lineup. Nearly half (46%) said they still would've purchased the same phone, while 20% weren't sure what they would do.

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At 37%, Motorola smartphone purchasers are likeliest to say they'd have bought the Apple iPhone if it had been available from their carrier. But the same survey also showed Motorola had the highest customer satisfaction rating among manufacturers after Apple, with 71% saying they were "very satisfied" with their smartphones six months after purchase.

Apple's rating of 77% "very satisfied" rating was tops, and BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion's score of 44% was lowest, among a group that also included HTC (63%) and Samsung (45%). The report noted that both RIM and Samsung have only recently released their newest models -- the Samsung Galaxy S line and the RIM Torch -- which are only partly reflected in the results.

When it came to a manufacturer's separate models, RIM and HTC showed the widest variation in satisfaction levels. More than two-thirds (64%) of Torch owners, for instance, were very satisfied with the phone, compared to 40% of Curve owners and 37% of those who user other BlackBerry handsets. ChangeWave calls the high rating for the Torch a "breakthrough" for RIM, which has lagged in customer satisfaction for the last two years.

The HTC EVO 4G, billed by Sprint as the first 4G phone in the U.S., is likewise a leap ahead for the Taiwanese phone maker. More than three quarters (76%) of users were very satisfied with the device, surpassing the 70% rating for the Droid, and well ahead of other HTC models, at 45%.

Now, if the iPhone achieved a 77% "very satisfied" rating even with all the complaints about spotty coverage related to AT&T's service, can the Verizon iPhone top that figure? We'll have to wait until next year to find out.

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