Apple has most loyal mobile users

A GfK survey shows Apple users most unlikely to switch mobile brands ahead of people using Research In Motion and Google's Android-based handsets, report states.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

Apple has managed to gain the most brand loyalty with its iPhone device as its users are less likely to switch to a different brand of handset when it is time to replace their existing mobile phone, Reuters reported.

In a report on Thursday, the news agency cited a survey by research firm GfK stating that 84 percent of iPhone users will stick with Apple's smartphone device when the time comes to replace their handsets. This is comparatively higher than rivals Google and Research In Motion (RIM), with 60 percent of users indicating that they will stick to Android-based devices while 48 percent said BlackBerry devices will still be their handset choice, it noted.

The GfK survey polled 4,500 users from Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, China, the United States and Japan, it added.

Ryan Garner, a GfK analyst, was also quoted in the report saying 63 percent of users on average will stay faithful to the type of phones they have currently. As such, building market position with high customer loyalty for these mobile companies is crucial for their future success as it will lower the chance for fast changes in terms of market share, he noted.

The fast growth of Android and impending launch of Microsoft's next iteration of its Windows operating system, which will be consistent across PCs and tablets, mean there are still opportunities for other vendors to play catch up though, the analyst added.

"Apple is clearly ahead of the game, but developments next year will challenge that," Garner said.

Additionally, the GfK survey revealed that more than 70 percent of consumers polled said they will stick with their phones because of the seamless integration of features and access to content. As such, the scope for brands to lure customers from rivals has "diminished" and the richest rewards will go to providers that can "create the most harmonious user experience and develop this brand loyalty", the research firm noted.

One Singapore consumer's experience appear to corroborate GfK's findings. Designer Max Yam, who owns an Android-powered handset and Apple's iPad tablet, told ZDNet Asia in an interview that he will remain with Android if there are no better alternatives around when it's time to replace his mobile phone. 

"I find that Android is good enough, though the interface is not as brilliant as [the iPhone]," said the self-confessed Google fan. "Apple products are not only physically good to use but they are good to hold and good to look at."

However, he is unlikely switch to an iOS device as he finds it frustrating to sync the iPad with his five-year-old PC running on Windows XP. In fact, since Apple released its latest software update iOS 5 in October, he has yet to upgrade his device's operating system because of the complexity of the process, Yam shared.

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