The Tortoise(s) and the Hare: Examining the True
Potential of Today’s Signature Smartphones
Elaine B. Coleman, Ph.D.
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Published September 2009. © 2009 Interpret, LLC
The Tortoise(s) and the Hare: Examining the True Potential of Today’s Signature
Catalyst: Carriers want to provide a signature smartphone that could simultaneously increase loyalty as
well as bring in new customers. While recent signature smartphones were released with great fanfare,
the perception is that none of them triggered a shift in consumer affinity or carrier anxiety towards the
1) To what extent have consumers embraced different mobile handsets for key social and media
2) Which smartphones are best for creating a balance between loyalty and defection?
3) How might certain age groups shed light on which brands have a stronger foundation for future
Interpret Insight: While Apple’s mobile products are highly prized, its exclusivity has required carriers to
look for other brands and partnerships to strengthen their handset portfolio. According to Interpret’s
MobileTrax, the “other players” such as the T-Mobile G1, the Palm Pre and the BlackBerry Curve have
gradually but definitively established a presence with smartphone consumers in relation to their heavy
mobile usage, high carrier allegiance and strong youth appeal.
The race is far from over, but the key entrants are beginning to level the playing field.
In terms of sales, buzz and market savvy, Apple has done an exceptional job of showcasing the iPhone
brand’s features and capabilities in an accessible and exciting manner. However, the glow of its success
has overshadowed an intriguing shift in multimedia usage, carrier loyalty and the demographic
compositions of other key signature smartphones. Having passed two billion mobile app downloads at
the end of September, the iPhone has firmly established itself as a powerhouse in facilitating the
development, organization and adoption of wildly diverse mobile apps. The typical iPhone user averages
about 33 minutes each day engaging with mobile apps, and this seemingly insurmountable lead in public
mindshare has enabled Apple to easily exercise its dominance over other top mobile activities as well.
Contrary to both critical and public assumption, several brands are generating extensive usage of and
interaction with online mobile pursuits. Owners of the G1 spend approximately 47.9 minutes each day
browsing the internet and 13.16 minutes watching movies on their phone—noticeably outpacing both
the iPhone and the smartphone average. Meanwhile, Pre owners are engaging with social media
networks on their handset for longer periods of time (23.56 minutes). Given the iPhone’s exceptional
touchscreen and media experience, this discre