Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/03/04/uk_smartphone_survey/

Brits blame Apple, Nokia, RIM et al for smartphone woes

Yet most problems appear network related

By Tony Smith

Posted in Phones, 4th March 2010 14:05 GMT

Smartphone owners are a vocal lot, willing to vent spleen to all and sundry when their handsets don't work as well as they expect them to.

The message for manufacturers is that they're generally ready to blame you for problems. Network operators can feel doubly relieved: smartphone owners are generally not willing to switch carriers.

So reveals a survey of British smartphone owners carried out during January and February this year by device testing company Fanfare. Some 155 individuals were questioned.

We should point out up front an important caveat: just over 89 per cent of those who took part in the survey said they own a smartphone, defined for the purposes of the study as "a mobile phone that combines voice services with applications including e-mail and/or internet access".

That definition takes in a broader array of devices than you might expect - these days, the ability to download apps is what sets smartphones apart - and the market penetration of true smartphones is actually around 14 per cent, according to most market watchers.

So either a large proportion of punters think their feature phone is a smartphone, or Fanfare's sample is significantly more biased towards smartphone usage than is the general population.

We have to assume Fanfare didn't specifically target smartphone users, since just over ten per cent of the sample said they didn't own such a device.

So what did the 'smartphone' owners say? Their responses don't make comfortable reading for manufacturers or suppliers. While 34.6 per cent of respondents said they were generally happy with their phone's performance, 57.1 per cent were disappointed.

A staggering 80.3 per cent of respondents said they experience problems like application glitches, compatibility issues, crashing or freezing some of the time (51.5 per cent) or all of the time (28.8 per cent).

Some 44.8 per cent said they occasionally encounter problems with new apps, while 28.8 per cent said they continually did - 73.6 per cent in total.

A little more than 62 per cent of respondents said firmware updates had sorted out their difficulties, so it's no surprise that 87.8 per cent of smartphone users said they don't rush out to buy new models but prefer to wait to be sure any glitches have been ironed out. The figures above suggest they don't wait long enough, perhaps.

The surveyed smartphone owners have problems will connected applications. Streaming media, web browsers and social networking tools topped the list of problem apps well above any other.

Yet the respondents more readily blame the handset's manufacturer rather than carriers. Some 53.6 per cent of respondents blame the company that made their phone. Just under ten per cent said they blame the network provider, and 15.2 per cent said they apportion blame according to what the problem is, effectively increasing both of the above percentages.

When it comes to identifying the source of the problem - phone or network - 54.4 per cent said they couldn't tell. But 21.6 per cent said they could, to which we should add the 14.4 per cent who said it depends on the problem - 36 per cent all up.

Most respondents - 60.8 per cent - said they would have to be continually experiencing problems before they would change networks. Some 17.6 per cent said they'd switch if they occasionally had trouble with their phones, 13.6 per cent if the woes occurred rarely, and eight per cent would change if they experience just one problem.

Only 19.8 per cent of folk said they didn't tell others about their dissatisfaction with smartphone performance. The rest complain to friends, family and social network connections. Some even write to the papers.

Unsurprisingly, they all take note when others tell them about troublesome telephones.

They're a pessimistic group too: 90 per cent of respondents said they expect the next generation of handsets to be less reliable that the current array. Vendors, take note. ®