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Summary:

A new survey by research firm Crowd Science brings bad news for BlackBerry maker RIM, and some good news for Apple. The company that comes out best of all, though, is Google, whose Android operating system seems poised to see some major growth in the near […]

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A new survey by research firm Crowd Science brings bad news for BlackBerry maker RIM, and some good news for Apple. The company that comes out best of all, though, is Google, whose Android operating system seems poised to see some major growth in the near future.

The survey, which Crowd Science performs semi-annually, addresses smartphone brand loyalty. This time around, it found that iPhone and Android customers were well satisfied with their choice of smartphone, but that BlackBerry is hemorrhaging users badly to both of those primary competitors.

A little over 90 percent of both iPhone and Android smartphone owners plan to stay with that OS when they purchase their next device, while nearly 40 percent of BlackBerry owners said they would opt for an iPhone next time around, and 34 percent said they’d go with Android instead of a RIM device.

It’s bad news for the Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry maker, and this latest survey shows that Apple isn’t exclusively to blame for the company’s steady decline. According to Crowd Science CEO John Martin:

These results show that the restlessness of Blackberry users with their current brand hasn’t just been driven by the allure of iPhone. Rather, Blackberry as a brand just isn’t garnering the loyalty seen with other mobile operating systems.

For me, the real surprise is not that many are dissatisfied with RIM, which seems to have done very little but make incremental cosmetic upgrades with its devices over the last couple of years, but that Android is nearly matching the iPhone in terms of consumer awareness and desire.

Apple still has the advantage in terms of who its customers are and what kind of money they’re willing to spend — and on what — though. iPhone owners tend to be slightly older and more affluent, and are much more likely to buy paid applications compared to other smartphone users. Android owners skew younger and less affluent, and accordingly are much less likely to spend money on paid applications. And they do download more free apps than any other user group.

Finally, the Nexus One is making a big splash, even if it isn’t selling in droves. Android awareness in general jumped six percentage points to 66 percent since the last survey period, and 32 percent of BlackBerry owners would swap their current devices for a Nexus One right away, given the chance. That number jumps to 60 percent for users of smartphones not made by Apple or BlackBerry.

While RIM is the company that should really be scared by the results of this survey, Apple shouldn’t exactly be patting itself on the back, either. Android is making steady gains, especially among current smartphone users, and they seem to have scored a special place in the hearts of young consumers, which, when combined with the 90 percent-plus brand loyalty result, could pay off huge going forward.

Related GigaOM Pro Research (sub req’d):

Report: Surveying the Mobile App Store Landscape

  1. I honestly think this is a case of a PR firm and advertising agency heightening expectations for consumers too high. When RIM focused more on consumer products with the Bold, the Pearl Flip, etc., a lot of people bought them thinking they were trendy. I’m of the opinion that a Blackberry’s strength is in it’s email client, and most people simply don’t need that type of connectivity, unless they’re running a business or they use a specialized work phone.

    The sad fact is, iPhone and Android offer a much more attractive user interface, more apps, and a richer web experience. RIM ultimately needs a Windows Phone 7 series style reboot (at least for consumer products) if they want to compete.

    I wouldn’t necessarily agree with the increase in “Android awareness” per say. Most consumers still don’t really know what Android is exactly and don’t base their purchasing decisions around the OS – it’s just the fact that more carriers are advertising and discounting phones that run on the platform. At the end of the day, most people don’t have the OS on their checklist, they just look at which phones are discounted the most.

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  2. The thing is, even though the BlackBerry was the first phone to start offering those kind of e-mail options, they’re no longer unique. Microsoft Exchange is supported by all major OSs.

    BB OS looks outdated, it ain’t intuitive to use, it has few apps etc. The only thing that BlackBerry was selling on, at least here in the UK, was the strength of the BB Messenger. Even then, that’s starting to pick up a bit of a reputation down here as just a hype.

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  3. I have built dozens of BlackBerry Ent servers and implemented them in diverse networks. Their strenghths lay behind the scenes. Yet outages have increased making my users ‘twitchy’. Loyalty is vapid when you realize the backbone isn’t solid. This is what will give Apple and Android steam.

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  4. [...] move away from personal e-mail to other more open forms of social communication may be one reason 40 percent of Blackberry customers are looking to switch to an iPhone. Given the fact that we now communicate to everybody all at once, why do we even need a personal [...]

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