BlackBerry’s popularity in SA is showing signs of waning, while consumer predilection towards Apple and HTC is skyrocketing. This is according to new research by BMI-TechKnowledge, which surveyed early adopters of smartphones.
Nokia came off worst in the research, showing the largest drop in popularity among respondents.
Ryan Smit, the digital consumer unit head at BMI-T, says the study was conducted on a local consumer technology forum and replies were received from 1 500 respondents. He emphasised the research results are skewed towards early adopters of technology.
He says Vodacom reported the number of smartphones on its network had increased by 12,3% in the last quarter, with 3,5m devices now on its network. MTN reported that 11% of its post-paid customers and 1,5% of its prepaid users are using now using smartphones.
“Definitions make it hard to say how many smartphones are out there, but it’s clear that the number is increasing rapidly,” says Smit. BMI-T’s definition of a smartphone was a device with the ability to download and install third-party applications.
“Ultra-cheap smartphones and tablets are accelerating market penetration,” Smit says. “The BlackBerry Curve was particularly successful because of its low price point. Also, penetration is increasing because cheaper devices don’t require one to forgo much in terms of functionality.”
Respondents were asked how likely they were to get a tablet. About 13% already had a tablet; 24,1% intended to buy one in six months; 53,6% in 12 months; and 71,6% in 24 months.
Asked to rate smartphone brands in terms of preference, 65,4% of respondents favoured Apple’s smartphones. HTC came in second with 55,7% of respondents; BlackBerry received 44,3% of the vote; with Samsung coming in next at 41,3%. Nokia trailed the leaders with 26,5%. Ratings were calculated on a sliding scale.
In terms of operators’ smartphone offerings, Vodacom was perceived as having the best products, garnering 54,8% of the vote, with MTN coming a fairly close second at 48,4%. Cell C trailed in third with 23,3%.
One of the most interesting aspects of the report is a comparison between which devices people have owned previously, which devices they currently use, and what they would like next. In terms of devices previously owned, 40,7% of respondents had owned Nokia devices, with Samsung and Sony Ericsson both receiving 14,8%.
As for devices currently owned, Nokia notched up 23,4% and Sony Ericsson just 5,8%. BlackBerry jumped from insignificance to 23,6% and Apple rose to 16,2%, up from 6,3%.
Regarding future device purchase plans, only 6,9% of respondents said they would buy a Nokia. Samsung received 16,2%, HTC 17,5% and BlackBerry 20,2%. Apple topped the list with 30,8%.
Smit says the results demonstrate that “SA is not insulated from international trends”.
“BlackBerry is still performing well in SA, but it’s definitely declining, while HTC and Apple are becoming the most desirable manufacturers, which is in keeping with international trends,” he says. — Craig Wilson, TechCentral