ChangeWave Research recently released a June survey of 4,042 consumers (primarily located in North America) that took the pulse of the smartphone buying public.
The results are good news for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and rival Samsung. For everyone else, it’s pretty much business as usual.
First, let’s look at what the data says about Apple. Yesterday’s earnings report of $35 billion for the quarter missed analyst expectations, and a big part of that miss was a 26% drop in iPhone sales compared to the previous quarter. Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer was quoted by Cult of Mac as saying:
“We’re reading the same rumors and speculation about a new iPhone as you are, and we think this has affected sales.”
ChangeWave’s report supports this theory that the 4G iPhone 5 — expected, although not officially confirmed for this fall — hurt iPhone sales last quarter as consumers held out for the newer, faster model.
In fact, as shown by the above results, demand for the iPhone 5 is at record levels — significantly higher than in similar surveys conducted for the iPhone 4S just prior to its release. And we all know how that ended: 4 million units sold on its launch weekend alone.
While Apple’s earnings have been nothing short of stellar (yesterday’s miss on analyst expectations not withstanding), Samsung has also been on a tear. It shipped 93.5 million smartphones in the first quarter of 2012, taking the global lead as the world’s largest mobile phone seller. The Galaxy S III, Samsung’s newly released flagship smartphone — which runs Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system — is available in 147 countries and only has been available since mid-June, yet it already has hit the 10-million-unit sales mark.
Looking at the above graph, the popularity gains Samsung has made are clear, particularly this year. Only last year, a mere 4% of consumers were planning on buying a Samsung smartphone, but last month, that had risen to 19%.
The gotcha for Samsung is that the big boost this year coincides with the release of its Galaxy S III. Apple’s iPhone 4S is nearly a year old and lacks the Galaxy’s 4G/LTE capability, so the increase in demand for Samsung should be taken with a grain of salt.
As part of the survey, when respondents were asked whether they were likely to buy an iPhone 5, 14% said they were “very likely” to pony up for Apple’s latest smartphone once it becomes available. Only 2% felt the same way about a Galaxy S III. While Samsung has made advances with consumers, the data suggests the latest Galaxy’s popularity reign is likely to be short-lived.
And how did other smartphone vendors make out in this survey? Nokia (NYSE:NOK), HTC, Motorola and the rest? Hardly a blip, aside from Nokia’s 1-percentage-point popularity bump (likely from its Lumia Windows phones) and HTC’s 2-percentage-point slide. Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) is unchanged, which might be the best news the company has had in a while. RIMM might be out of the race, but treading water beats drowning.
The smartphone market remains a two-player game — Apple and Samsung — and while Samsung is enjoying some time in the 4G-compatible spotlight at the moment, when the iPhone 5 drops, expect Apple to have a blowout holiday season.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.