Smartphone survey: iPhone is tops among Network World readers

The Apple iPhone was the runaway winner in Network World's exclusive online survey of reader smartphone preferences

The Apple iPhone was the runaway winner in Network World's exclusive online survey of reader smartphone preferences, with 42% of 638 respondents saying that they currently own one.

In a distant three-way tie for second place were the Motorola Droid, HTC and BlackBerry smartphones, which were each owned by 10% of respondents.

The survey results painted a particularly bleak outlook for Research in Motion: When asked what their next smartphone purchase would be, only 1% named BlackBerry, while 20% said they wanted the latest and greatest iPhone and 49% said they planned to upgrade to some version of iPhone.

SEE THE RESULTS: Readers sound off on smartphone preferences

LOOKING BACK: iPhone users: Five years later, the device is more than a machine

Not surprisingly, the iPhone was also the top pick when readers were asked to name their "favorite" smartphone, as noted by slightly more than half of respondents. Just 3.6% of respondents identified BlackBerry as their favorite smartphone.

Although Apple's famously loyal following is undeniably responsible for some of the iPhone's success, the survey suggests that the majority of users are more attracted to its features than its mystique. When asked to identify what aspects they take into account when purchasing a new smartphone, 89.3% said hardware, while 84.5% said software and 77.7% cited applications. The brand of smartphone came in fifth at 39.3%, while the "hype" or "coolness" factor was cited by just 8.2%.

With mobile software such a valued aspect of a smartphone, the high regard for Apple's iOS mobile operating system may account for some of the iPhone's popularity. When asked to rate the smartphone platforms they've used on a 1-to-10 scale, iOS got the most 10s by far. By comparison, just 12.9% rated Google's Android a 10, although 27.2% agreed that it was worthy of an 8.

Android outpaces iOS in total market share

Market studies of the past few years show that Android's open source format has enabled Google to reach a larger base of users than Apple, and that trend held true among Network World's readers. When asked what platforms they've used in the last two years, 394 respondents reported Android, compared to 379 who've used iOS.

Other key trends found in the study:

- Windows Phone shows signs of life. The survey included 101 respondents who used Windows Phone in the past two years and 256 who used BlackBerries in the past two years. But Windows Phone users had a higher satisfaction rating: 4.7% of respondents rated Windows Phone a 10 in satisfaction, just 2.6% said the same for BlackBerry. Conversely, 17.8% rated BlackBerry a 1 on the scale, while just 15.4% said the same for Windows Phone.

And more than three times as many respondents said they plan to buy a Windows Phone than a BlackBerry, including 3.6% who plan to buy a Windows Phone 8 device, despite the fact that no such device exists yet.

- Verizon, AT&T dominate, Sprint's satisfaction is a mixed bag. Respondents were asked what carrier they subscribe to, and then rated them based on satisfaction. Verizon Wireless and AT&T came out at the top two in both categories. Sprint, interestingly, saw almost as many users (11.1%) issue a rating of 9 as those who rated it a 1 (12.8%).

- Carriers and vendors may be wasting time and money on marketing and advertising. When asked what most influences their smartphone purchasing decision, just 3.8% said commercials -- the same amount that cited sales representatives. The leading influences were reviews, with 85.6% of the vote, followed by price at 54.7%, friends at 43.4% and co-workers at 33.7%.

- Similarly, 4G LTE was identified by just 24.3% of respondents as the most important offering from a carrier. The only feature to receive fewer votes in that category was the bundled pricing plan, at 23.4%. Considering that carriers' advertisements continue to push 4G LTE as a key selling point, this survey suggests that they may see a better return if they were to direct their efforts elsewhere. In fact, a recent Nielsen study found 55% of respondents are still unable to identify any form of 4G technology, while just 8% said 4G was the most important factor of their smartphone purchasing decision.

- Social, productivity apps are absent in the mobile enterprise. In two separate questions, respondents were asked to name the mobile app they use most for personal and work purposes. Email was the top response to both questions, although Facebook was a close second in the personal app use category. In the work category, no social networking or productivity app received more than 1% of the vote. Behind email, calendar, Google search and GPS topped enterprise apps.

- Smartphones ownership leads to tablet interest. Respondents were asked how owning a smartphone would affect their next PC purchasing decision. The majority, 77.3%, said it would not, but that was followed by 13% who said they'd buy a tablet. Another 7.7% said they would buy a PC of the same brand as their smartphone, while just 2% said they wouldn't need a PC if they had a smartphone.

- The Prize Winner: We promised that one lucky participant would win a new Apple iPad. That reader is Katherine F. from Amesbury, Mass.

Colin Neagle covers emerging technologies, privacy and enterprise mobility for Network World. Follow him on Twitter @ntwrkwrldneagle and keep up with the Microsoft, Cisco and Open Source community blogs. Colin's email address is

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Colin Neagle

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