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Apple takes top spot in J.D. Power smartphone ratings five years in a row

For the fifth year in a row, Apple's iPhone has taken top spot on the J.D. Power and Associates Smartphone Satisfaction Study. "Apple ranks highest among manufacturers of smartphones in customer satisfaction with a score of 795 and performs particularly well in ease of operation, operating system, features and physical design. Motorola (763) and HTC (762) follow Apple in the smartphone rankings," according to the study.

J.D. Power's study found that smartphone users cited different "key factors" for satisfaction:

  1. Ease of operation (26%)
  2. Operating system (24%)
  3. Physical design (23%)
  4. Features (19%)
  5. Battery function (8%)

It's perhaps in Apple's favor that consumers assigned relatively little importance to battery function, as that was by far Apple's worst rating -- the only result it received that wasn't a perfect 5 out of 5 stars. This probably comes as little surprise to anyone who uses an iPhone heavily throughout the day. In fact, the iPhone's battery performance rated lower than every other smartphone manufacturer's handsets except for HTC, so Apple definitely has room to improve the iPhone's design beyond making it thinner/lighter/sexier every year.

As for the other ratings, for the most part other manufacturers didn't even come close to matching the iPhone. RIM's position near the bottom of the pile should come as no surprise to anyone who's watched the BlackBerry's stagnation over the past several years, but what is surprising is Samsung's position at the very bottom of the satisfaction results. Whether it intentionally set out to ape Apple's iPhone design or not, according to these results it doesn't appear to have done the company any favors as far as consumer satisfaction is concerned.

Next year's results should be interesting. Palm won't be on the list, and if RIM keeps going the way it has been, the BlackBerry may not be either. It'll also be fascinating to see how Nokia switching to Windows Phone 7 for its OS impacts consumer satisfaction regarding ease of operation and the operating system itself. As for HTC and Motorola, barring any revolutionary improvements in Android their results aren't likely to fluctuate much.

Bookmark this post for next year, because I'm betting Apple's going to top the list again in 2012.

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