The smartphone sector is gripped by a struggle for dominance that’s emerging as between Apple’s iPhone and Research In Motion’s BlackBerry, according to the latest consumer survey from ChangeWave.

The survey asked 3,597 consumers to share their views on smartphones, and while the research confirms RIM continues to dominate the existing consumer smartphone market, Apple’s iPhone has "huge momentum" for future growth.

In terms of current market share, BlackBerry deployment has slipped one percentage point to 42 per cent. Apple has quickly shot to third place in the market occupying 9 per cent share, just a few percentage points behind second place manufacturer, Palm, with 16 per cent.

Palm’s 16 per cent is significant because it reflects a continuous two-year decline in Palm’s marketshare, ChangeWave claims.

Despite its continued struggle to turn itself around with a raft of recent high profile hirings of former senior Apple managers, Palm appears a victim in what is becoming a two horse race, researchers said.

Customer satisfaction is key to Apple’s iPhone success. The product received what ChangeWave called an "astonishing" 79 per cent Very Satisfied rating from consumers in the survey. 

That’s far ahead of RIM’s 54 per cent and Palm’s 22 per cent, meaning both competing companies will need to make a major move to deliver more compelling customer experience.

iPhone’s future growth opportunity also appears secure, with one-in-three (35 per cent) of respondents who already plan to buy a smartphone within the next 90 days saying they intend purchasing an iPhone. And that figure is up from the 23 per cent preference revealed in the last ChangeWave smartphone industry survey held in January 2008.

“The biggest reasons for the surge are the recent Apple announcements on the iPhone Software Development Kit and the new 2.0 OS,” said Tobin Smith, founder of ChangeWave Research and editor of ChangeWave Investing.  “One-in-ten respondents now say they’re more likely to purchase an iPhone in the future because of the new smart phone software.”

The ChangeWave survey also asked respondents which mobile operating system they’d like to have on the smart phone they plan on buying.  Once again, the consumer market is dominated by the RIM and Apple operating systems.

The number of respondents saying they’re Very Likely to use Google’s Android OS was just 2 per cent, though another 15 per cent did say they’re Somewhat Likely to use the new OS. 

“These numbers do show some consumer interest in the Android Operating System,” said Smith, “but based on the ultra-competitive battle between RIM and Apple, there’s little likelihood of the Android gaining traction on either one’s OS. They’re sucking up all the oxygen in this market.”

 

 

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