The results from the latest 451 Research/ChangeWave consumer smartphone demand survey, recently completed in June 2012, are in and the key finding is that regardless of what the competition does, the iPhone continues to dominate the market not only in its present form but in demand for the still undefined iPhone 5 (which may or may not end up being called an iPhone 5). That said, the survey also found that Samsung's own efforts in delivering high end smartphones is bearing its own substantial fruit.
The June 2012 survey looked at current demand for the Samsung Galaxy S III relative to advance demand for the hypothetical Apple iPhone 5. 4,042 primarily North American consumers drove the survey-based research.
Samsung Galaxy S III vs. Apple iPhone 5
Samsung continues to build momentum for itself. When asked how likely it was that a respondent would buy a Samsung phone over the next 90 days, 19 percent of them said they would. As the chart below shows, this represents a significant improvement by Samsung. It shows major momentum for the second time in the past three surveys – having registered a 6 point surge in planned buying just since March. This represents a four-fold increase in consumer intent to buy Samsung smart phones since September of last year.
The recently released Galaxy S III is in large part responsible for the burst of Samsung momentum, and the new smartphone does well for itself - at least in terms of how it stacks up to the rest of the field - with the exception of the iPhone 5 mirage. To measure demand for the new model, which went on sale in June, ChangeWave presented consumers with a brief description and asked how likely they would be to buy the Samsung device in the future. The chart below shows the results.
A total of 2 percent of respondents say they are very likely to buy a Samsung Galaxy S III and 7 percent are somewhat likely - an excellent position for the most part. The top reason respondents gave for why they plan on buying the new Galaxy is overall screen size and screen quality, with 15 percent listing this as a priority.
Advance Demand for an Apple iPhone 5
For the next part of the survey, ChangeWave provided a description for what the next iPhone is likely to deliver. Based on what is generally known, the next iPhone (and there is no indication, we need to point out, that it will be called the "iPhone 5") will have a 4 inch screen (as opposed to the iPhone 4S and its 3.5 inch screen), a better camera, 4G/LTE capability, and likely a better processor. We also now know that due to improved screen technology, the new iPhone will be slimmer than the 4S - something that was not generally known at the time ChangeWave ran its survey.
Given this description, ChangeWave looked at advance demand for this next generation iPhone , which Apple is expected to release later this year - probably in October. The chart below shows the unprecedented results.
With 14 percent of consumers saying they are very likely to buy and 17 percent somewhat likely to buy the iPhone 5 in the future, advance demand for the next generation iPhone is strikingly higher than for any previous iPhone model. For example, as shown in the chart below, a similar question on future demand for the iPhone 4S, taken at the time of its October 2011 launch, showed 10 percent very likely to buy and 11.5 percent somewhat likely to purchase the device. Given that the iPhone 4S is currently considered the most successful smartphone release in history, the new numbers strongly suggest that we will soon have a new record holder.
The biggest finding of the survey is the unprecedented level of advance demand for the next generation Apple iPhone - which based on these survey numbers easily dwarfs the advance demand of any previous iPhone launch. That said, with overall interest in Samsung models nearly four times greater than we saw three quarters ago, Samsung also emerges as a huge winner in this survey – with the Galaxy S III a major driving force.
The huge wave of pent-up demand for the coming iPhone launch has important implications for the rest of the industry – and puts a number of second tier smart phone manufacturers at increased risk of coming in likely well below plan for the year.
In contrast to Apple and Samsung, demand for Motorola is a meager 4 percent - down 2 percentage points from the previous survey; HTC remains unchanged at 3 percent; and Research in Motion simply remains stuck at 2 percent - unchanged from the previous survey but also representing its all-time low.
In a "sort of" positive finding, the key number for Nokia "jumped" to 2 percent - a full 1 point increase over the previous survey. It remains a hopeful sign for Nokia and its strategic partnership with Microsoft - but for now it also merely remains a tiny niche player.
"Advance demand for the "iPhone 5" is strikingly higher than we've seen for any previous iPhone model," according to Dr. Paul Carton, 451/ChangeWave's VP of Research. "Overall smart phone sales should spike to an all-time high this fall, and of course Apple is going to be the number one beneficiary. But besides Apple, and to a lesser degree Samsung, no other manufacturer is likely to benefit from this coming wave of demand."
The numbers clearly point to an emerging Samsung - but most clearly they point to Apple continuing to dominate the smartphone market in an ever increasing manner.