Google’s Android OS smartphones are still the most popular, with four out of ten people using the platform, but as more undecided buyers come into the market, the game may open up.
Prospective smartphone buyers looking to purchase a model next year picked Google’s Android most often, followed by Apple’s iPhone, a distant second at 28 percent. Research In Motion’s BlackBerry weighed in at 19 percent and Microsoft’s Windows Phone holds only 1 percent, according to the latest survey from the Nielsen company.
But when Nielsen broke the users into categories on their willingness to adopt new technologies, the numbers revealed some interesting opportunities for smartphone makers.
About 40 percent of early adopters surveyed were looking for an Android phone in the next year, compared with 32 percent who said they wanted the iPhone. As people’s eagerness for iPhone adoption wanes, the race may get closer between iPhone and Android.
However, when researchers divided the people in these categories between those who had made up their minds and those who hadn’t, they discovered late technology adopters make up the largest block of undecided shoppers, who may well impact the smartphone market next year.
The report estimates a full 30 percent of these smartphone holdouts, who may still be using feature phones, have yet to commit to a smartphone candidate. The “smartphone beginners” may represent a ripe market opportunity, compared to 22 percent of undecided buyers already using smartphones and looking to upgrade, followed by 17 percent of undecided early adopters.
“In politics as in smartphones, these ‘undecideds’ will be the ones device makers will be hoping to win over,” said Don Kellogg, Nielsen’s director of telecom research & insights.
These undecideds are entering one of the more crowded smartphone markets in recent memory, paving the way for possible surprises down the road.
Apple is readying its latest offering, the iPhone 5, which latest rumors estimate will debut in October,. It may get a boost if Sprint announces it will carry the device, which many believe is imminent.
Also, Motorola may release the long-anticipated Android powerhouse, the Droid Bionic as early as next week. If it includes the brawny features many hope it will, the smartphone could make a serious run for the top spot, competing with Samsung’s (104438) and HTC’s latest slew of Android devices.
Coinciding with these expected launches is Microsoft’s new Windows 7 Mango OS, set to release later this month. If the OS is well received and uniquely designed phones promised by the company’s new partnership with Nokia come to fruition, the combination may prove a winning one.
The intersection of many new smartphone features and uses, and late-adopting consumers who haven’t decided on preference may have a big impact on the mobile industry. The smartphones and carriers consumers gravitate towards in the next months may have reverberations for some time to come.