iPhone retains its sticky crown

iPhone users really love the iPhone and plan to get a new iPhone. That’s the not-so-shocking conclusion of a new survey, albeit it one that’s got some limitations.

The survey comes from a wider report into the telecoms industry by analysts at UBS. They questioned 515 people in Europe and America, most of whom were executives, so this is hardly a comprehensively representative sample of the general public.

The results aren’t about actual retention rates, but rather what UBS is calling “survey implied retention rates.” In other words, they asked existing users if they’ll get the same brand of hardware next time they upgrade. That means there’s no accounting for the pattern of “I’m never buying anything from this piece of crap company ag… OOH SHINY NEW!”

Even with those limitation, the results were pretty dramatic. Of the Apple phone owners questioned, 89% said they’d stick with Apple next time. Second place was HTC with just 39%, followed by RIM at 33%, Samsung 28%, Motorola at 25% and Nokia at 24%.

It’s arguable the RIM figure is more significant than Apple’s “stickiness”: in a similar survey in 2010, 62% claimed they’d stick with the brand next time around. Given that if you’re getting a BlackBerry you’re getting it from RIM, that’s not a good sign for the device, particularly given these are largely business users being questioned.

I wouldn’t read too much into the figures for the other brands. After all, if you know you’re getting an iPhone next time round, then you are certain you’ll be buying Apple. If you’re thinking of sticking with Android, it still makes sense that you’ll be exploring multiple manufacturers. And the survey doesn’t give much insight into the difference between “I’m definitely ditching my current manufacturer” and “I’m going to shop around.”

The other main limitation of the results is that it doesn’t give us a timescale. There’s a big difference between “My next handset will also be an iPhone” and “I’ll be camping outside the Apple store to get an iPhone 5 at midnight.”