iPhone and BlackBerry ascendant as smartphone wars begin

 The latest ChangeWave Consumer Smartphone survey suggests Research In Motion and Apple’s will wipe the floor with other manufacturers, as the two horse race between the two firms for dominance of the smartphone sector pushes other makers out of the game.

Director of research, Paul Carton, notes that prior to the release of the iPhone 3G, his surveys had suggested the device would have a huge impact on the market. It did. Apple sold one million units in the first weekend, and demand remains high today.

"RIM isn’t taking the Apple 3G challenge lying down," Carton notes. "The Canadian manufacturer has multiple plans in motion to counter Apple’s momentum among consumers, including an already announced new product release (the Bold) and two likely additional product releases (the Thunder and Kickstart)."


Just after the announcement of the iPhone 3G and just before the product shipped, ChangeWave surveyed 3,567 consumers on their reaction to the new RIM counteroffensive. And while consumers don’t appear as enthusiastic about the company’s forthcoming devices, they do seem keen enough to place a challenge to the Apple attack.

A total of 4% of respondents report they’re Very Likely to buy the new RIM/BlackBerry Bold when it becomes available. Another 13% are Somewhat Likely.

Slightly less positive but nonetheless significant, 2% of respondents say they’re Very Likely to buy a RIM/BlackBerry Thunder when available. A total of 13% are Somewhat Likely.

Another 2% say they’re Very Likely to buy a RIM/BlackBerry Kickstart when it becomes available, and 11% are Somewhat Likely.

“These results show consumers hungry for all varieties of BlackBerry,” said Tobin Smith, founder of ChangeWave Research and editor of ChangeWave Investing, who added, “it appears like when it comes to the BlackBerry, the adage ‘if you build it, they will come,’ certainly holds true.”

The strength of these early survey results on the demand for RIM’s new products points to a potentially powerful counteroffensive to Apple’s 3G iPhone, according to Smith. “The real losers in this smart phone battle will most likely be the second-tier players, who could find themselves increasingly pushed to the sidelines as the two Goliaths battle for market dominance.”

ChangeWave also looked at the impact of the new RIM releases on the rest of the smartphone industry – current RIM customers are two-to-three times more likely to buy new models than customers of other manufacturers. Competing firms most at risk from the two horse Apple/RIM battle include Palm, Motorola and Samsung, Changewave said.

Apple customers, on the other hand, appear least likely to buy any of the new RIM phones," they added.

"The Apple iPhone has captured the hearts and minds of its user base, and so has the RIM BlackBerry," the researchers said. "Fortunately for both, the global consumer and enterprise smart phone markets are big enough to support both Apple and RIM – it’s the other cell phone manufacturers that look like the real losers."

RIM should be concerned, however.  As you can see in this graph, they’ve netted a 1% loss in marketshare for the 1st 1/2 of 2008…and that is before the 3G iPhone ws released.

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