Game of phones: Is Samsung's fan army catching up to Apple's?

In a survey, an increasing number of Samsung users are upgrading to another Samsung phone. Although there's still a ways to go to catch up to Apple's 75 percent.

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It's hard out there for a phone user. SubGrooveRecTV/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

The pipeline of loyalty rarely pumps much substance.

It can be gushing at one moment and suddenly dry the next.

So today's existential question is: Are Samsung's hordes becoming as loyal as Apple's in the "Game of Phones?"

This query blurted from my brain when I read news of a survey compiled by WDS and presented by Business Insider. It suggested 2013 saw 58 percent of Samsung users upgraded to another Samsung device.

This puts the brand second only behind BlackBerry.

I am sorry -- that is not quite accurate. BlackBerry users were the least loyal at 21 percent. Yes, 79 percent appeared to head for the hills.

The most loyal, unsurprisingly, are Apple users, 75 percent of whom still take on another Apple device when their current relationship is through.

Of all the other brands surveyed -- and the research covered the US, UK, and Australia -- only Samsung and Apple broke the 50 percent barrier. (Nokia was next at 33 percent.)

I am sure that there will be appropriate hosannas offered by true Samsung loyalists at the brand's progress. Especially as Samsung was the champion, in this research, of all customers switching from other brands. It captured 34 percent of them. (Apple was next at 24 percent.)

One might imagine, though, that it would be easier for a Samsung owner to be tempted by another phone that uses the Android platform. Just as it is harder for an iPhone loyalist to find something similar to iOS, as none exists.

I wonder, though, whether this is really an expression of loyalty.

Real human beings aren't fond of moving from Corn Flakes to Rice Krispies. The need to take a different bus, a different route to work, a different job, or even a different opinion chills as much as it excites.

The mere prospect of switching to another phone -- even if it has the same operating system -- isn't necessarily a happy one.

So instead of these results being expressed as loyalty, perhaps they're more akin to someone who stays in a relationship because they can generally make it work.

Sometimes it's annoying. Often, they look around and wonder if there's something better. But divorce can be expensive and who knows if your current partner will take half your photos as alleged compensation?

Certainly, there are deeply loyal, fanatically committed, possibly insane people at the core of both Apple and Samsung.

But part of these brands' success comes down to the lack of truly competitive phones that excite just enough (but not too much).

You know, like your second spouse.

 

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