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How loyal are you to your smartphone?

Last updated on: January 19, 2012 11:26 IST

How loyal are you to your smartphone?

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A recent research from GfK (a Germany-based research company) suggests that nearly one in five consumers, who own both an iPad and an iPhone, say switching smartphone is more difficult than changing bank accounts.

According to this research, user experience is driving consumers' brand loyalty to their smartphones and they are less likely to switch brands the more applications and services they use on their device.

Here are some common consumer barriers with regards to switching smartphones and the impact of their attitudes towards the overall user experience. Read on to find out your loyalty quotient:

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Photographs: Gary Hershorn/Reuters

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Higher the apps, higher the loyalty

The research reveals that the tipping point for loyalty is when a consumer uses seven or more services on their device.

Here, US tops the list. Consumers in the US are the most likely to use seven or more services – 61 per cent.

This is followed closely by China - 56 per cent and Brazil 53 per cent.

In comparison to this, European countries use fewer services on their smartpho#8800 France and Italy - 46 per cent, Germany - 45 per cent, Spain - 43 per cent and UK - 42 per cent.

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Photographs: Reuters
Tags: US , China , Germany , Spain

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Three key pillars to user experience

Simplicity:

Seventy-two per cent of smartphone users say they find it easy to access their device's applications and navigate the menu system. Therefore, moving from a smartphone that they are familiar with is the biggest challenge to switching devices. In fact, the research reveals that the main barriers to switching all relate to user experience:

Thirty-three per cent of respondents cited disrupting their current smartphone set-up (i.e. the apps and features I use)

Twenty-nice per cent - having to learn how to use another type of smartphone

Twenty-eight per cent - having to move their content (music, video, books, apps) from one type of smartphone to another

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Photographs: Reuters
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Accessibility

Consumers that build a library of media and content are demanding access to all of their digital content, irrespective of the device they are using.

Almost three-quarters (72 per cent) of smartphone owners think it is important to access the content such as music, books and apps on any internet enabled devices, such as smartphones, tablets and TVs.

This figure increases to 80 per cent and becomes even more important to consumers that own all three devices; a tablet, smartphone and PC.

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Photographs: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton
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In relation to user experience, the countries that were surveyed rated different levels of importance on the three core areas of simplicity, integration and access.

Consumers in Western Europe place greater emphasis on simplicity than either integration or access to services.

In Germany 84 per cent of consumers believe that ease of use is the most important factor and place less importance on accessing content on numerous devices (64 per cent).

By contrast, Chinese consumers place greatest importance on access, with 92 per cent stressing the need to access content across all devices.

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Photographs: Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters

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Smart Features

Customers are equally interested in high powered processors and camera megapixel rates as a secondary concern to the user experience.

A quad core smartphone will not play Angry Birds, read email or watch the Simpsons any better. This makes it very hard for any new hardware players to break in without a tie up to a rich content provider.

That's probably why 84 per cent of iPhone users that were surveyed said they would pick the iPhone again.

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But, Google's Android software comes as a close competition to Apple. About 60 per cent consumers has displayed their loyalty.

The other popular brand Research in Motion and its BlackBerry shares a vertically integrated model with Apple, but its software and content offerings are sparse and have not kept up with the times.

GfK's research shows that just 48 per cent of users are now looking at buying another BlackBerry.

Others like Nokia in its new partnership with Microsoft is hoping that the Windows 8 platform can get both companies back into the smartphone space.

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The winner takes it all

If numbers are anything to go by, then analyst firm Gartner shows which smartphone was the most popular last year, in terms of sale.

Early in 2011, 36.3 million Android smartphones were sold. While Google's OS having whisked past Symbian (27.6 million), putting their market share of new sales in the quarter at 36 per cent and 27.4 per cent, respectively.

Apple's iOS takes third place with 16.9 million sales, with BlackBerry in fourth with 13 million.

Gartner pegs sales of Microsoft-powered smartphones at 3.7 million units in the same period. Although the company claims that only 1.6 million of those were running the new Windows Phone 7 OS.


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In a nutshell: apps are creating loyalty. Persuading someone to switch smartphone OS is about more than a whizzy new user interface or impressive hardware features in a new handset. It's about answering the question.

"Which of the apps I use now are available on your platform, and for the ones that aren't, what have you got that's better?"

Clearly these barriers to switching phones show the importance of the good old adage, 'if it ain't broke, doesn't fix it.'



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