Sunday, February 6, 2011

Flood of new iPhone buyers coming says uSamp survey

ViP Day is nearly upon us. That’s Verizon iPhone day this Thursday when the dreams of smartphone owners apparently will come true—availability of the popular phone on the most robust phone network in the U.S.

At last, app fans can own Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone on the Verizon (VZ) wireless network. Many consider Verizon’s network superior to that over at AT&T (T), which has had the iPhone exclusively since 2007.

By all indications, Thursday will be a very good day for Verizon. But just how good?

Research by uSamp (United Sample, Inc.), an online survey firm, suggests a land-office business at Verizon as users of Google’s (GOOG) Android OS phones from Google and Research in Motion’s (RIMM) Blackberry phones switch to iPhone. Lots of AT&T iPhone may queue up to make the switch too. uSamp surveyed more than 700 smartphone users with a 3.6 percent margin of error.

“The uSamp survey affirms initial reports of widespread defections from AT&T,” said uSamp. “(A) majority of Verizon’s current Android and BlackBerry users already have iPhone fever, reporting that they intend to head to Apple as soon as the iPhone hits the shelves: 54 percent are very likely (25 percent) or somewhat likely (29 percent) to go iPhone on Feb. 10.”

Meanwhile, uSamp reports that many AT&T iPhone users claim they are making the break to a VZ iPhone, but perhaps surprisingly, despite gripes about dropped calls, coverage, etc., many plan to stick with Ma Bell.

“The uSamp survey affirms initial reports of widespread defections from AT&T. According to the survey, more than a quarter of current AT&T customers (26 percent) intend to switch to Verizon’s iPhone on the day it becomes available. For now, however, the remaining 74 percent would rather wait than switch,” uSamp said.

Conversion fees aren’t cheap after all. And there was concern about a decline in service.uSamp also found:

--Men are more likely than women to switch to Verizon’s iPhone.

--Younger customers are not only more willing to wait in line for Verizon’s iPhone on Feb. 10 but, in general, they are more likely to make the switch.

--Midwestern Verizon users of BlackBerry and Android are least willing to wait in line for the iPhone on Feb. 10.

Google and RIM should be following developments closely.

Philip Elmer-DeWitt observed in Fortune that if the survey is accurate: “Research in Motion is in trouble and the run on Google Android phones is about to hit a wall.”

Will iPhone be as big a hit on Verizon as uSamp’s sample suggests? We may know more later this week.

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