Samsung Rides the Wave in Smartphone Sales

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The latest data from 451 Research’s ChangeWave service shows that Samsung’s Galaxy III smartphone is gaining market share on the iPhone from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL). In its December survey of “primarily North American respondents,” ChangeWave reports that 50% of those who plan to buy a new smartphone in the next 90 days plan to purchase an iPhone.

That’s still a pretty big number, but not as big as the 71% who planned to purchase an iPhone just 90 days ago. People intending to buy a Samsung smartphone in the next 90 days total 21% of the market, up from just 13% one quarter ago. ChangeWave calls the gain “unprecedented.”

The research firm notes:

Consumer buying intent for Samsung smart phones has been extraordinary to start the year. Considering the Galaxy S III has been out for several months we’d normally expect a slowdown by now – but it’s still red hot.

And consumers are also showing more interest in the larger screen Galaxy Note. Large-screen devices like the Note even got a new moniker at the recent Consumer Electronics Show: “phablets.” In fact, ChangeWave’s study notes that the Galaxy Note accounts for 23% of potential buyers of a Samsung smartphone.

But don’t count Apple out yet:

With this level of consumer interest, Apple is perfectly capable of producing a large-screen smart phone that’s virtually a tiny tablet – they could call it an ‘iTab’ – and have it on the shelves for the next Holiday season.

Another somewhat startling finding is that the Windows Phone operating system from Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) received a higher customer satisfaction rating (53%) than did the Android operating system from Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG). That helped Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) jump into a virtual tie with Samsung in the ‘very satisfied’ category. Apple leads with a 70% rating.

One lesson here is that the coming release of the Blackberry 10 from Research in Motion Ltd. (NASDAQ: RIMM) had better be spectacular.