Sanyo won't share the stage

Motorola and Sanyo top customer satisfaction survey.

Around this time each year, J.D. Power and Associates releases its study of customer satisfaction for cell phones. Last month the company named T-Mobile as the favorite carrier among consumers, but this week it turns its attention to handsets. Both Motorola and Sanyo emerged as winners, with each manufacturer spinning the results to their ends. And incidentally, companies both issued press releases that landed in my in-box.

Out of the eight manufacturers surveyed, Motorola and Sanyo tied to receive an overall satisfaction score of 726. Of the five key factors surveyed, Sanyo scored big in operation and battery functionality. Motorola also did well in operation and succeeded in the physical design and features areas. Of course, Moto owes its design win to phones like the Razr and Rizr, but in the features area, I'd say it's not so far ahead of its competitors. I'm also a bit surprised that Sanyo claimed the battery functionality category. On average, Moto phones outperform their Sanyo counterparts in our cell phone battery life charts. Also, neither Sanyo nor Motorola apparently did well in the durability category, which is remarkable since the two companies pretty much have that market cornered.

Yet what's even more interesting is that while Moto stated clearly in its press release that it ties with Sanyo, Sanyo didn't return the favor in its announcement. The company's press release stated that it ranks highest in customer satisfaction "with a tie," but it didn't name the other party. What's up with that?

But back to the study. Samsung followed close behind the winners with 722 points and was followed in turn by LG (721 pints), Sony Ericsson (710 points), Nokia (705 points), UTStarcom (694 points), and Kyocera (685 points). Nokia's relatively poor showing is part shocking and part not. Yes, the Finns have been quiet in the US market for the past year or so, but I'd still expect a better ranking. Maybe the naysayers are correct, and Americans really don't know anything about cell phones. On the other hand, Sony Ericsson's placement is impressive, considering it has only a couple phones with U.S. carriers.

J.D. Power pulled a couple other worthy tidbits from its survey. Flip phones are the most popular style for U.S. callers with 69 percent of the market, while speakerphones are the most commonly used feature. People are owning their handsets longer, as the average cell phone ownership cycle increased to 17.5 months from 16.6 months from last year. Finally, 36 percent of survey respondents said they opted for a free phone when making a new handset purchase (up from 28 percent in 2002), while the average price for a new phone dropped to $93 from $103 in 2002.

So what do you think of the survey? Give us your feedback below.

 

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