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12/24/2008
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iPhone Trumps Storm In Customer Satisfaction

Owners of the iPhone 3G were more satisfied than BlackBerry Storm owners, but RIM is well positioned for the next quarter, according to a report.

The touch-screen BlackBerry Storm has helped Research In Motion on the sales side, but a new report from ChangeWave said customers are more satisfied with Apple's iPhone 3G.

In a survey of 4,000 U.S. cell phone owners, 77% of iPhone owners said they were "very satisfied" with the device. By contrast, only 33% of Storm owners said they were "very satisfied" with their handset. Additionally, 14% of Storm owners said they were "unsatisfied" with it, while only 5% of iPhone owners said the same.

While these results don't bode well for RIM, they are by no means an indication that the Storm is a failure, ChangeWave said. The much-awaited Storm was released late last month and it had mixed reviews, mainly due to software glitches and bugs. But the Storm will be like the iPhone and receive periodic firmware upgrades that fix bugs, and add new features.

"Competitive pressures may have caused the Storm to be launched before it was quite ready for prime time," said Paul Carton, research director at ChangeWave, in an interview. "But if RIM can rapidly fix its initial glitches and bugs, the survey shows that this new offering, along with RIM's other recently released models, will provide accelerated momentum in 2009."

The future also looks promising for RIM, as an earlier ChangeWave survey found 39% of customers who said they would buy a smartphone in the next 90 days would choose a BlackBerry. Only 30% of customers said the same about the iPhone.

The report said RIM holds about 41% of the U.S. smartphone market, and it's well positioned to maintain or increase that. The BlackBerry maker potentially has a larger market to sell to than Apple, as it has multiple handset models on various carriers.

Apple has snagged 23% of the U.S. market, mainly due to the tremendous sales success of the iPhone 3G. But ChangeWave said Apple may have trouble capturing the same amount of consumer interest in future quarters without a new hardware release, which is why rumors of an iPhone Nano continue to bubble up.

The report also showed Palm with 9% of the market, a steady decline from the 36% it held in June 2006. The company is laying its comeback hopes on the upcoming Nova operating system and handsets, and it recently got a $100 million equity investment.

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