Smartphone Survey Only Tells Part of the Story

Crowd Science has released the results of a smartphone survey which should serve as a serious wake-up call for RIM. Although RIM leads in smartphone market share in the United States, seven out of ten BlackBerry users surveyed indicated a desire to drop the smartphone platform in favor of the iPhone or an Android-based device.

Most of the headlines related to the survey results are quick to point out that the Apple iPhone had the highest results for BlackBerry users who "definitely or probably would" trade their smartphone in to get the smartphone. With 39 percent of BlackBerry users willing to switch to the iPhone, the platform certainly represents a threat to RIM.

While true, though, that one statistic seems less impressive when compared with the fact that Android followed close behind at 34 percent for "definitely or probably would", and if you add that result together with the result for "might or might not", there were actually more respondents indicating an interest in Android than the iPhone.

That said, there are some glaring omissions from the survey. While it has declined steeply, Windows Mobile is still the third place smartphone platform in United States market share--well ahead of Android (at least for the time being). Why not add Windows Mobile to the survey equation?

For that matter, what about the Palm Pre? It has not lived up to market expectations, but those who have embraced the WebOS device generally seem to feel that it offers a superior platform to other smartphones. The survey, however, seems to lump Windows Mobile and Palm's WebOS together under a survey category called "other smartphone".

Surveys are like scientific experiments. They are not capable of truly unique revelations because they are specifically crafted to seek the intended result. Perhaps 95 percent of BlackBerry users would rather have a Palm Pre, or 60 percent of iPhone users plan to switch to a Windows Phone 7 device. I doubt it, but we don't know because this survey doesn't address those scenarios.

To be fair, I completely understand that it is also impossible for a survey (or experiment) to include every potentiality. Obviously, the survey is being conducted with a purpose in mind, and obviously there has to be a limited number of options within the survey.

Windows Mobile, in particular, strikes me as a logical platform to include in this survey, though for a number of reasons. It has more smartphone market share than Android, and the unveiling of the upcoming Windows Phone 7 series platform has generated some renewed enthusiasm for the Microsoft mobile operating system.

Arguably the most important reason to include Windows Mobile--or Windows Phone 7--in the survey, though, is that the Microsoft mobile operating system offers the most direct comparison to the BlackBerry platform in terms of enterprise adoption. The survey showed BlackBerry users are most likely to use the smartphone strictly for business purposes, and business adoption of the BlackBerry platform is the primary factor keeping RIM at the head of the smartphone pack.

The survey does yield some interesting, and useful statistics for RIM, Apple, and Google. I am simply playing devil's advocate and pointing out that surveys yield the results they are looking for, but don't necessarily imply that other results aren't equally true, or even more so. Apply some critical thinking, and consider the agenda of the survey in addition to the results of it.

Tony Bradley is co-author of Unified Communications for Dummies . He tweets as @Tony_BradleyPCW . You can follow him on his Facebook page , or contact him by email at tony_bradley@pcworld.com .

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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