Smartphone Demand Rising Fast, but Not All Buyers Are Happy

Gartner expects that 2010 sales of touch-screen mobile devices will grow 96.8 percent over last year. However, not all consumers are happy with their smartphones, according to a small survey by Fanfare.

Touch-screen smartphone sales are expected to almost double in 2010, though not everyone is happy with their devices, according to two separate reports.

IT research firm Gartner expects the worldwide touch-screen mobile device market to top 362.7 million units in 2010, an increase of 96.8 percent over 2009 sales of 184.3 million units.
"Touch screens are no longer the preserve of high-end devices and are now being included in many midrange phones as more companies have been driving the consumer market for affordable touch-screen phones," Roberta Cozza, a principal research analyst at Gartner, said in a March 4 statement. "As phone capabilities increase, consumers are becoming much more aware of the benefits of touch interfaces, and vendors are responding."
What the vendors are responding with are touch technologies - both capacitive and resistive - integrated into user interfaces. The Apple iPhone, which relies on capacitive touch, offers the strongest argument for the technology, which Cozza expects will be the prevailing one.The Asia/Pacific region has led the way in adapting touch, which Gartner analyst CK Lu explains is because "handwriting is great for Chinese input." However, due to the size of the markets, Europe currently leads the way, accounting for 49 percent sales, followed by North America, with 46.65 percent. Asia/Pacific, by contrast, is expected to account for 23.4 percent of sales in 2010.Still, despite these sales numbers, many consumers are reportedly unhappy with their purchases, reports software company Fanfare, which surveyed a teensy sampling of smartphone users between January and February.What it discovered, it said in a March 3 report, is that 57 percent of respondents were "disappointed with the overall performance of their smartphones," that 53 percent are likely to blame the handset manufacturer for the issues, and that 58 percent have no qualms with using social media to vent their grievances.
(While AT&T has been the focus of much complaining from iPhone users suffering dropped calls, it's been reported that Apple's device may actually be to blame.)David Gehringer, vice president of marketing at Fanfare, said new applications may in fact be the culprits, as well as a need to get products to market quickly."Apps have become the driving force behind the mobile industry," Gehringer said in a statement. "The Apple App Store and Android Market have served up billions of app downloads, giving smartphone owners the ability to use their phones in new and exciting ways. But now that the novelty is wearing off, users want their applications to be more reliable."While the average smartphone user blames the handset manufacturer for glitches, Gehringer says it's "very hard to tell who is at fault for the glitches that smartphone users are experiencing, but by collaborating over testing, the phone makers, networks and application builders can give customers a better experience and reduce the chance of customer churn." Gartner's near-100-percent growth prediction may well prove true, but it may be the tried-and-tested touch-screen devices that consumers go for."The vast majority (88 percent) said that they are happy to wait until handsets have proven reliability before purchasing - suggesting consumers are becoming more cautious as result of negative experiences," wrote Fanfare.