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More than half of touchphone users will go back to buttons

Survey reveals disappointment with technology, experience

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World+Dog wants a touchscreen phone, survey results from market watcher Canalys suggest, but vendors still have work to do to prevent users going back to buttons.

According to Canalys' figures, 38 per cent of some 3000 mobile phone users questioned in the UK, France and Germany said their next phone will have a finger-oriented touchscreen user interface.

Add in the 16 per cent of respondents who said they want a stylus-operated touchscreen device next, and the total jumps to more than half of people surveyed.

Clearly, touchscreens are in and, as Canalys found, they have across-the-board appeal, being favoured almost as much by the old as the young, by women as men. Demand is at pretty much the same level in all the three countries included in the survey, and touchscreen phones are as likely to be wanted by pay-as-you-go customers as those folk on contracts.

But for all the buzz surrounding touchscreen phones - much of it from the iPhone - the technology is disappointing too many people. Apple and one or two others may be getting it right, but that doesn't mean consumers who have tried rival products and disliked them will stick with the technology but try a different vendor.

A surprising 53 per cent of folk who already own a touchscreen phone said they won't be buying one next time round. Apple and HTC both had much larger numbers of users who who said they will remain loyal to touchscreen technology, Canalys noted, though we wonder whether that's more to do with brand preference than favouring touchscreens, especially in Apple's case.

Other vendors who have offered touchscreen phones fared less well. For example, fewer than a third of Sony Ericsson touchcreen owners said their next phone would use the same kind of UI. Fortunately, for SE, Nokia, RIM and co, they have plenty of button-based phones for these folk to turn to.

Those who favour a stylus were among those folk surveyed who were least likely to go to a finger-oriented touchscreen UI.

“This is another example of how strongly current user experience sets future expectations,” said Pete Cunningham, a senior Canalys analyst. “It's likely that many of those users perceive moving from stylus to finger as a loss of precision that would degrade usability, hence the underlying resistance.

Within this group, there was notably less resistance to change from current HTC and Samsung owners. Both Samsung and HTC have put their own finger-driven UI on top of Windows Mobile, and the survey responses suggests they may be more successful in persuading punters to stow their stylii for good. ®

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