Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android mobile operating system may be the U.S. market leader, but customers are increasingly giving Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone a vote of confidence-at least in theory.
Some 46 percent of 4,163 customers surveyed in June said they plan to purchase an iPhone from AT&T (NYSE:T) or Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZW) over the next 90 days, compared with 32 percent of respondents who said they would go with Android, according to mobile research firm ChangeWave.
The researcher said Apple iOS and Android gained 2 and 1 points, respectively, of buyer preference from its last market tracker in March. ChangeWave also said that 89 percent of the respondents hailed from the United States.
Moreover, ChangeWave learned that 29 percent of Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch owners and 11 percent of non-Apple gadget owners said they would be more likely to purchase Apple devices in the future thanks to Apple's iCloud service. iCloud is a Web-based file storage service that aims to allow users to access their software from any Apple device.
"This initial look at the impact of Apple's new iCloud service shows it enhancing existing customer loyalty," said ChangeWave Research Director Paul Carton. "But the survey also provides highly encouraging signs that iCloud will generate additional customer demand for other Apple products, not only from current Apple product owners but from a substantial numbers of non-owners as well."
The rise in pro-Apple sentiment in the face of 550,000 daily Android handset and tablet activations worldwide is not a new theme, thanks in large part to roughly two quarters of Verizon iPhone sales in the books.
Nielsen said late last month that while Android still paces the U.S. smartphone market with 38 percent market share through May, its growth of recent acquirers flattened over the last few months.
Android accounted for 27 percent of the new smartphone acquirers from March through May, according to Nielsen. Apple saw its recent acquirer share grow 7 percent, from 10 percent from December to February to 17 percent from March to May.
Meanwhile, mobile analytics firm Flurry said new Android project starts dropped from 36 percent in the first quarter to 28 percent in the second quarter. Flurry said the Verizon iPhone 4 and iPad 2 helped lure developer support from the Android platform to Apple's iOS.
Another reason for the recent, strong Apple sentiment is the hype of the alleged iPhone 5 coming this September. iPhone sentiment tends to strengthen as the fever pitch of product rumors increases.
If it seems like a two-horse race at the top between Android and iPhone, how are other players faring? ChangeWave said buyer demand for Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry OS handsets is down to 4 percent, a drop from 5 percent at last count.
ChangeWave said that after benefiting tremendously in the years Verizon subscribers were barred from the iPhone market, Motorola lost 4 points of market share "at least partially attributable to the Verizon iPhone release that occurred earlier this year," Carton said.
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone 7 didn't even register as a blip on ChangeWave's customer radar.